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Karnataka schools likely to hold classes in shifts after reopening

While schools with high student strength will be directed to follow a shift-system, those with lesser number of students will be allowed to continue how they functioned pre-lockdown.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Updated: September 30, 2020 8:11:29 am
Around 4,000 students affected: 96 schools running ‘without recognition’ sealed in UP's BhadohiEarlier this month, the state government had backtracked on its announcement allowing private schools to reopen partially.

Schools in Karnataka with high student strength will be directed to hold classes in shifts, according to a Department of School Education Research and Training (DSERT) official. The DSERT is finalising the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for schools to resume lessons offline.

“While schools with high student strength will be directed to follow a shift-system, those with lesser number of students will be allowed to continue how they functioned pre-lockdown,” a DSERT official told Indianexpress.com.

When asked how ‘high’ and ‘low’ student strength will be determined, the official added that specific details will be notified once the government decides to allow students to be physically present in classes throughout the day.

“Further, managements will be asked to sanitise classrooms and other points within the school premises and vehicles that take students to and from the school on a daily basis. While students, teachers, and other stakeholders of the system will be asked to strictly follow social distancing norms, some restrictions will be in place while allowing students to take part in physical instruction and sports activities,” the official explained.

Earlier this month, the state government had backtracked on its announcement allowing private schools to reopen partially. According to Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar, students of Class 9 to 12 were initially allowed to attend classes physically with adequate safety measures in place from September 21. However, this decision was overturned citing the daily rise in coronavirus cases across the state.

With the decision on partially reopening still pending, DSERT and top officials of the education department are expected to convene a meeting with representatives of private schools managements, members of school development and monitoring committees (SDMCs), teachers, parents, and other stakeholders to discuss ways of implementing safety measures.

Karnataka Primary and Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar Tuesday clarified that the state government is yet to decide when to reopen schools and PU colleges in the state. “There is no plan to reopen them now. Suggestions and inputs from MLAs, educators, school managements, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders of the system will be looked into before taking a final decision,” he said. The Minister added that a final decision on the same will be made after he returns to Bengaluru from Bidar.

Meanwhile, D Shashikumar, general secretary of the Karnataka Associated Managements of Primary and Secondary Schools (KAMS), termed the recommendation to hold classes in shifts as “impractical”.

“While classes begin as early as 7 am, transportation will be a major challenge if shifts are in place. Most vehicles ferrying students to schools take internal routes to reach the doorsteps of the child in Bengaluru, which is time-consuming, thereby affecting the entire academic schedule,” he said.

Shashikumar added that teachers might be reluctant as shifts would force them to spend more time on campus. “Each teacher has got a family that they take care of and with the present situation, not many volunteer to be physically present at schools on a daily basis. Classes can be held only for senior students as the number will be less and more classrooms will be available to exercise social distancing norms as well. Else, holding classes for different grades on different days of the week can be recommended, to begin with,” he said.

However, classes linked to the Vidyagama scheme — where teachers visit students near their homes — continue across villages in Karnataka while most private schools stick to online teaching modes to ensure learning is not affected during the pandemic.

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