With Covid-19 clusters being reported from educational institutions in Karnataka, several private schools have halted offline classes for now. With the Omicron variant having also fuelled concerns among parents, these institutions have gone back to online classes and decided to adopt a “wait-and-watch policy” for now.
According to M Srinivasan, President of Management of Independent CBSE Schools’ Association (MICSA), Karnataka, over half of their member schools that had resumed offline classes have decided to go back to a “completely online” mode in the last few days. “With the Omicron variant now being a cause for concern, over 50 per cent of the managements that partially resumed on-campus classes have now decided to go back to online mode of teaching. Senior students (of classes 9 and 10) are now attending offline exams which will be over by this week,” he told The Indian Express.
Srinivasan added that schools have decided to “wait and watch” till January to take a final call on when to resume offline sessions for all classes. “We had decided to begin offline classes in a full-fledged manner to end this academic year on a good note. However, the latest developments are likely to delay that further,” he said.
Srinivasan said that Covid-19 clusters have been reported at educational institutions which have residential facilities. “While the Omicron variant has not been identified here yet, guidelines need to be followed stringently,” he said.
Meanwhile, the principal of an ICSE school in Bengaluru said that the managements “felt choked” by the fact that vaccination has started for school students yet. “We encourage parents to send their wards for offline classes which for the overall development and learning outcome of the children. But we are helpless when they ask us to assure them that the children will not get infected while at school. While we have taken steps to ensure all staff are vaccinated, the situation gets difficult when we are asked to ascertain if all family members of the children are fully vaccinated,” the principal said on condition of anonymity.
The principal added that “monthly online surveys” were being held among parent groups to understand their approach towards resuming offline classes for all. “While at least 40 per cent parents were ready to begin sending their wards daily to school after the Christmas vacation, the numbers have dropped significantly in the last few days. Omicron is indeed causing a worry among them,” the principal said.
However, Primary and Secondary Education Minister B C Nagesh said that the situation “is not alarming”. He urged parents not to worry and said that an appropriate decision will be taken in a timely manner. “For now, we shall wait and watch. The government will take a suitable decision based on inputs from the Technical Advisory Committee, if the need arises,” he said.
Nagesh explained that no government schools have reported any Covid-19 cluster since offline classes resumed. “We have over 48,000 primary and high schools (government) across the state. While continuous learning is as important as the health of children, the department is in constant touch with the DDPIs. Their reports from across districts are constantly shared with the TAC,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai dismissed speculations that schools and colleges may be closed in the state. “We have issued instructions on guidelines to be followed at schools and colleges. But educational institutions will not be closed,” he reiterated on Tuesday.