Modified seating arrangements, change in timings and further division of the class into different sections could be among the key features in schools when they re-open amid the coronavirus pandemic, Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank informed during a live interaction with teachers today.
Social distancing needs to be maintained not only during classes but also during transport facilities like school bus service. He explained, “It is quite possible that classes would be able to incapacitate only 30 per cent of students they used to have before coronavirus. These modalities are being worked out by NCERT.”
The NCERT is exploring a new system for opening schools, while the UGC is working out modalities for higher educational institutes, including colleges and universities for the upcoming session, he stated. A task force will be created to maintain sanitization, health standards in schools. UGC has already asked colleges to create a COVID-19 cell in each institute to handle coronavirus-related issues.
While the UGC has stated that classes for enrolled students will begin in August for fresh batch classes will begin from September, there is no clarity on when schools will reopen. “The health of our students is our key concern. The schools will be open only once the situation caused due to coronavirus is normalised,” the HRD Minister commented.
While replying to the question regarding the re-opening of schools post lockdown, the Minister also informed that “the school administration and teachers will carry out the various tasks such as defining specific roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders at the school level, defining and establishing health and hygiene and other Safety Protocols or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) before and after re-opening of schools, redefining or readjusting School Calendar and Annual Curriculum Plans, ensuring a smooth transition of students from home-based schooling during lockdown to formal schooling and ensuring emotional well-being of students,” the official government release stated.
He added that schools will prepare checklists to ensure they do not miss out on anything. CBSE will be sharing the checklists soon.
He also asked teachers and students to download the Aarogya Setu app to fight against coronavirus and stay updated on the latest information related to coronavirus.
Schools and colleges have been shut since mid-March due to the coronavirus induced lockdown. Teachers have been asked to tutor from home using online modes. He urged teachers to continue online teaching through various modes including SWAYAM, SWAYAM Prabha, Diksha, etc.
He also urged teachers to contribute to interactive and innovative ways of digital learning for Diksha portal. He informed that so far over 9000 contributions have been received by the HRD Ministry. He remarked, “We should treat this situation as an opportunity and strengthen the digital infrastructure.”