While we may be in the opening stages of the country-wide lock down, school are being cautious about how to open safely. Many schools are still closed, such as Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chennai, and some are planning to open concerning the number of cases in their region. The upcoming examinations are also playing a pivotal role in the preparation of the students, which is why schools are planning hybrid teaching approaches.
Teachers are also cautious about having students within their premises unprotected during lectures, practical exams, CBSE exams, entrance tests, etc. They are designing classroom layouts before admissions in terms of integrated learning, examinations, and overall safety. Certain hygiene measures are also being put in place in the cases where admissions have begun, and schools re-opening. While state-wise decisions are impactful in the opening of schools, students are being trained at home about the best ways to protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.
School admissions have also taken a significant hit, as educational institutes are unclear about their scholastic year approach, especially in Mumbai, Delhi & Bangalore. With CBSE boards and CBSE compartment examinations impacted, schools explore all options to help streamline the resumption of activities. While there is no substitute for in-person teaching, digital methods and online courses have become critical during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Central And State Guidelines
At the time of writing this article, there are no clear guidelines from the central government with regards to schools reopening, admissions, examinations, etc. the consensus is that schools will remain closed. The nationwide lockdown, which impacted 1.5 million schools and 24 crore students, will continue to restrict on-ground school activities. Certain areas with lower COVID-19 cases may elect to open schools sooner as teachers return to their jobs as scheduled. Unlock 4.0 may also have clear guidelines with regards to when schools may be scheduled to open.
Cities and states planning for schools re-opening
Metro cities, such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, and Chennai, may have their approach to open schools strategically. As these cities host several critical zones of COVID-19 pandemic cases, local government bodies will have to invest significant resources in ensuring no sudden spikes in cases. With India just going through a major spike of COVID-19 pandemic cases in recent times, schools may opt to remain closed across metro cities, including Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, etc.
States such as Tripura, Assam, and Sikkim, are resuming schools in the coming month. Many students have already started attending schools in late August as well. These states will be constantly monitored to determine whether there are any spikes, but parents may have to make a final decision here based on the cases.
West Bengal has opted to close schools till September 20, based on key data on COVID-19 pandemic cases and the virus’s impact. Andhra Pradesh schools are still waiting for the final announcement regarding the opening of the schools here. Several other states are yet to state clear guidelines with regards to when they are opening. Parents are actively watching for opening dates to prepare for admissions and the upcoming session.
Note: Centre and State Govt have decided to reopen the schools from October 15, 2020. For all related information on Unlock 5.0, please refer to the MHA Guidelines.
The Evolving Teaching Methodology
Several schools may continue to opt for digital teaching programs, ensuring that students can access quality educational experiences through digital means. Several examinations and entrance tests are linked to the upcoming month, so tutors and professors are using digital means to reach students. Additionally, students are also expanding their digital reach to alternative learning methods and picking up subjects outside the school syllabus.
India may see a surge of hybrid teaching methodologies, especially as digital and traditional learning has been a viable strategy for many countries worldwide. Teachers can directly interact with students, with parents receiving updated insights about their performance regularly. With a rough opening window between September 1 and November 14, 2020, schools are keen on leveraging digital technologies further to streamline the return of students back to school facilities.
Educational experiences should be made fast-track
State and central boards have simultaneously reduced the students’ curriculum load by 30% in some cases to ensure that students do not have to fast-track their educational experience. While they will continue to have access to the curriculum, they will not be tested on these removed subject areas in their CBSE exams. This streamlines the approach further and ensures that parents can have better control over the transition during the CBSE exams.
A Potential Approach For Schools- reopening
Nationwide schools re-opening for class 10 and class 12 students, in a phase-wise manner, based on the number of COVID-19 pandemic cases in their regions. These classes will be critical to open so that students can prepare for examinations on-time. Additionally, other examinations are dependent on the score received on these scholastic exams, which is why the government may act to open them first. Students preparing for class 10 and class 12 CBSE exams may be able to go to school earlier.
Class 6 to 9 to be brought back into schools re-opening
Subsequently, classes 6 to 9 may be brought back into schools based on the impact on the number of cases detected. Schools are cautious in their approach to not increase the number of cases detected in any single region. As schools and examinations centers can become a ground for the pandemic to rise again, educational institutes are careful in their approach of reopening. Schools are working with government officials to gauge the full extent of Unlock 4.0.
Sanitization and hygiene required during schools re-opening
Sanitation and hygiene maintenance will be the greatest areas of concern for schools, as students and teachers will want to ensure that effective measures are set in place. Leading schools will ensure that students can study in a COVID-19 pandemic-free environment and that there are no chances of reoccurrence. As other countries have slowly opened their schools and started admissions, Indian universities will have to study their strategies to fully control any risks that may arise.
Schools re-opening should have robust guidelines
Schools will also have to develop robust guidelines, at the state and central level, for all their institutes worldwide. These leading schools will have to maintain compliance across all their institutions to ensure that there is no cross-contamination or single-site activation of the COVID-19 virus. Children will have to be protected against all threats, as schools will look towards best practices within safety, hygiene, and social distancing if they open to the strength of their full admission.
What Parents Can Do At Their Best For Upcoming School Examinations
Getting ready for the challenges
To tackle the COVID-19 pandemic head-on, parents need to be ready for all challenges. While there are several delays in opening the schools and examinations, parents can empower their children about potential issues that may arise. From always wearing masks to maintaining social distancing, there are several strategies that parents can teach their kids to make sure that they are protected.
Parents and schools can work hand-in hand at the time of schools re-opening
Parents can also work directly with schools to better prepare their children during this time. Parents can interact with teachers and understand the necessary precautions that need to be taken during this time for sessions and examinations. It is also important for schools to be transparent about their approach when opening. This is critical as there could be gaps between what schools expect and what parents do, so institutions need to be clear in their approach.