New Delhi: Schools in Delhi are set to re-open “virtually” from Wednesday after the summer break given that Covid-19 cases have continued to rise and the Ministry of Home Affairs has restricted physical opening of schools and colleges until 31 July.
FWhatClasses will begin for schools following all boards, catching up with some states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu that had started classes in June.
Unlike in April, when schools had to rush into online learning, they are now better prepared with study schedules and methods and have treated the development as something that is “here to stay”.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development had last month announced they would come up with a framework for online education that schools can follow while conducting classes. However, it is yet to release the guidelines.
School devise their own schedules
In the absence of a uniform online education framework, individual schools are designing the timetable according their needs, mixing study hours with co-curricular activities and teaching different classes in different slots.
Delhi Public School (DPS) in RK Puram, that follows CBSE, has divided class timings in two slots — classes for students from 9 to 12 will begin by 8.30 am and for those in classes 6 to 8, school will start by 12 noon. The detailed schedule has been shared with students, parents and on the official website of the school.
Springdales School in Delhi is also ready with a timetable which involves a mix of co-curricular activities and studies.
Speaking about the schedule in detail, principal Ameeta Mulla Wattal told ThePrint, “We have to understand that online education is here to stay and work accordingly. At Springdales, we have worked out a schedule which gives children an opportunity to personalise their learning experience and this is something that could have only happened with online learning and not (in) brick and mortar classrooms.”
The CBSE school said it has scheduled classes in such a way that a limited number of students (10 to 15) attend a particular class at a time, so that the teacher can give personalised attention to students.
Government schools will also start online classes from 1 July. Although an official communication had not been issued until the time of this report being published, teachers expected classes to start from Wednesday.
A principal of a Delhi government school who wished to remain anonymous, said, “We have already made all arrangements for conducting the classes online. There are two-three ways in which it will be done — if classes happen centrally from the school education department, they will set a timetable and students and teachers will follow that. If schools have to do it on their own, teachers will fix a time with students on WhatsApp groups and set-up a Zoom call or send lessons through WhatsApp.”
He added that study hours for online classes are being kept shorter than regular school hours since they don’t expect children to sit in front of a computer screen for a long time.
Learning curve for schools
For students from economically weaker backgrounds without the adequate infrastructure, a plea demanding that the government meet their needs is pending in the Delhi High Court.
Meanwhile, schools in other states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and the southern region already began their classes in June and are incorporating what they’ve learnt so far in managing an online education system.
Vamsi Krishna, principal at DPS Surat said, “Things are definitely more streamlined this time and students have also adjusted to online learning. At this point of time, everyone prefers virtual classes.”
He added that the school tries to make sure students are not sitting in front of a computer or spending hours on their smartphones for their classes, and have strategically included adequate rest in between classes.
Ganesh Parmeswaran, the principal at Bal Bharti in Navi Mumbai said, “We have four periods for higher classes and three periods for lower classes everyday. We have tried to keep the online schedule convenient for the students.”
Schools in Maharashtra started online classes after 20 June.
With coronavirus unlikely to taper out any time soon, schools will probably remain shut for the foreseeable future.
The HRD ministry, which had left it to the ministries of health and home affairs to decide on when school should re-open, recently hinted that schools would re-open after August.