Schools to open after 315-day COVID break

Guidelines on safety measures, standard operating procedures likely to be issued after officials’ meeting today

Following Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s direction to open schools and colleges from February 1, officials will be meeting on Tuesday to finalise the guidelines and standard operating procedures to be adopted with regard to classes, teaching and exams.

About 26,000 government schools and 11,000 private schools in Telangana will be opened for students of higher classes after a gap of 315 days as the last working day of the previous academic year was March 21.

Special Chief Secretary Chitra Ramchandran told The Hindu that guidelines will be issued after deliberations on Tuesday with State officials and District Medical and Health officials on the safety measures to be adopted by school managements.

The guidelines will have information on whether parents’ consent would be needed and staggered attendance should be allowed. Information on the syllabus and examination pattern will also be included in the guidelines. However, there is no clarity on the opening of coaching institutes. Since coaching is optional, coaching centres may be allowed to start after the vaccination drive stabilises.

Ms. Ramchandran said the syllabus has been re-arranged for this academic year and there would be lesser burden on the children in the exams as well. While question paper will consider only 70% of the syllabus, 30% will be covered in the internal assessments.

Question paper

Moreover, there will be lot of choice in the questions with multiple-choice questions dominating the paper to make it easier for students. Last year, all the students till class 10 were declared passed as exams were not conducted. Though Intermediate exams were conducted, the government decided to pass all the candidates irrespective of their performance.

As per the regular academic schedule, schools were to be opened from June 12 but the peak in COVID-19 cases led to continuation of the shutdown. Schools will now reopen for students of classes 9 and 10, and also Intermediate and above by strictly following the COVID-19 guidelines.

Teacher unions have welcomed the decision to reopen schools and said it may not be a problem for students to jump into academics as they were already attending online classes.

Telangana State United Teachers Federation general secretary Chava Ravi said out of the 220 working days, 120 have already been lost and he advocates reduction in syllabus in the interest of students. However, majority of students are already in the groove with online classes and the physical classes will help them in fine-tuning the lessons already learnt apart from those remaining, he said.

S. Sreenivas Reddy, president of Telangana Recognised Schools Managements Association, said reopening would help students understand the lessons better. “We will take parents’ consent while allowing students as per COVID-19 norms,” he said. About 11,000 private schools will now start functioning, though with reduced number of students.

Online classes

Though students would be allowed now, academic activity has already began in the government schools from September 1 through online mode using WhatsApp and other social media platforms. Private schools were way ahead in using the electronic mode compared to government schools. Online classes were also conducted through digital, Television and T-SAT platforms.

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