August 17, 2021 7:06:27 pm
After the Rajasthan government announced that schools will reopen for classes IX-XII from September 12, private and government schools in the state have begun working out strategies to resume classes after the second Covid-19 wave. The government has allowed the schools to reopen with 50 per cent capacity and all teaching and non-teaching staff to have had at least the first dose of vaccination.
“We are ready. We will be able to accommodate children into the school as per Covid protocols,” said Sawai Mansingh School (SMS) principal Manisha Tyagi.
While announcing the reopening of schools, the government maintained that the online classes will also continue. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) released by the Home Department stated that the institutions would have to get written permission from the parents before letting any student attend offline classes.
“The first process is taking parental consent. We have sent out e-mails asking parents to give their written consent for children to attend offline classes,” said Maharani Gayatri Devi (MGD) Girls School principal Archana Mankotia.
Mankotia added that she doesn’t think all the students would be coming but she is expecting at least 50 to 60 per cent attendance.
“We have enough rooms and we will have protocols like checking the temperature and sanitisation in place at the entrance gate,” Mankotia added.
The government had said that the vehicles, used by students to commute, would be allowed to seat staff and students according to the capacity.
Stating that all transportation vehicles would be sanitised and students would be scanned, Maheswari Public School (MPS) Jawahar Nagar principal Ashok Vaid said there will be a proper seating arrangement in place for the students.
The government has not issued any guidelines regarding schools with hostels within them. MGD being one such school has planned to call hostlers as well.
“We are taking consent from boarders as well. We wouldn’t let boarders intermingle with day scholars and they will be attending classes from the hostel itself, even if teachers physically go and teach them,” Mankotia said.
While the private schools have managed to continue online classes with some technical glitches, the government schools used WhatsApp for most teaching.
“It was through charity and some funds we had raised that we were able to get used smartphones for children. We gave them smartphones so it would be easy to work with the school shut,” said Dr Jayashree Bhargava, principal of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, in Gangori Bazaar.
Chitra Kala, a Business Studies teacher at SMS, said the school was all set to reopen. Talking about taking online and offline classes together, Kala said, “We would set Smart TV panels and side-by-side the cameras would be set up for those attending the classes online.”
MGD and MPS, along with SMS, talked about live streaming classes for children sitting at home, while the teachers take physical classes and devise a plan to carry out hybrid (a balance of online and offline) classes.
“The challenging part is to work out a timetable,” Mankotia said.
Private and government schools are on board with schools reopening. “Movie halls, weddings, local trains — everything is open, it is time to get education back on track. This is the new normal.,” said Vaid.
Sharing her concern about digital classes, Kala said the teachers don’t know what is happening “behind the curtain”. “Growth and personality development of the students is hindered in online classes.”
Nikhil Jose, a member of Rajasthan Private Schools Teachers Association and a math teacher at St. Xaviers, Jaipur, appreciating the move, said, “Parents have to pay the fees anyway and virtual classes can never be as good as physical classes.”
Jose added, “Anyone who has taken admission in the first standard in the last two years, doesn’t even know what school is. Phase-wise opening of school should definitely take place.”
While the government has asked for the consent of parents for letting children physically attend school, Bharagav said 99 per cent of parents in her school want their children to go to school.
“Parents have been worried but they should stop being scared,” said Kala.
While the schools have appreciated the move of students coming for offline classes, the fear of a third wave prevails.
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