Coronavirus has plunged the world into uncertainty. Doubts are being raised on reopening of schools. There is no clarity if and when exams and evaluation would be completed. Will the schools reopen will all students in attendance or will schools be opened to different classes? Will there be social distancing in school transport? What would be the fate of students seeking admission abroad? These and many more questions are answered by school leaders.
The survey would cover all the regions of the country. Here is the first installment covering Telangana and Andhra Pradesh
By Brainfeed Team
Holding Class X exams almost impossible: Tulasi Prasad
Holding the Class X exams is a distant possibility says Tulasi Prasad, President, Sri Rama Rural Educational Institutions, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, and VP, NISA.
Holding the Class X exams in the state of Andhra Pradesh is going to be a herculean task and one that would be wrought with many difficulties.
In all, 6.34 lakh students would be appearing for the exams and the Government, at this point of time is ill-equipped. He says, “There would be a need for 70,000 invigilators and 2,719 centres. Also conducting exams in agency areas would be risky as one would have to take students and staff almost 40 km in the hinterland.” He adds, “Even one positive case would be enough to spoil the cart.”
A challenge for boarding schools
With the economy hit badly, admissions to boarding schools would take a nosedive. Many in the village may opt for Government schools. Parents would be reluctant to send students to boarding schools after the pandemic on grounds of health reasons and fear.
‘Treat the lockdown as an extended summer vacation, says Seetha Murty
Seetha Murty, Director Education, Silver Oaks International Schools says one should treat the lockdown as an extended summer vacation. Just as the lockdown was clamped, the CBSE schools completed the academic year.
The normal practise for CBSE schools is to complete the academic year by mid-March, start the new academic year by the end of March and after three weeks of classes, summer vacation begins.
What the CBSE schools missed out is the starting of a new session. Seetha Murthy says, “If all goes well, schools should begin in the second week of June.” She added, “There are two major issues-is public health more important or teaching the syllabus.”
Monotony of holiday not good
An area of concern is the ‘continuity of learning’ children are bored already and are yearning for some kind of rigour.
Admissions will be hit: Dr Usha D Reddy
Dr Usha D Reddy, Director, Meridian Group of Schools, Hyderabad was looking forward to the 2020-21 academic year with ambitious plans but the corona virus scare has hit her plans in more ways than one.
Speaking to Brainfeed, she said, “From the school management’s perspective, apart from conventional teaching taking a hit, it is the admissions that would normally happen would be affected.”
Years of experience shows that parents who are on transfer usually take admissions but this time around, they would be conservative and those who had planned earlier, would now think twice.
People in the private sector at present would be grappling with pay cuts and job security and it does not augur well for new admissions.
Usha Reddy says, “I see a 40% drop in admissions.”
Evaluation of Grade X has not been completed and one does not know how the admissions to Grade XI would take place.
Learning cycle not affected
Usha Reddy says, “Luckily, much before the lockdown, our school planned for online classes. Using zoom app, the classes are going on schedule. Initially, we started for Grades, 9, 10 and 12 and later started for Grade 1 students.
We are giving lot of importance for learning new skills. Parents too are making wonderful videos which we are sending to the CBSE. Students too are making videos on missing school, friends, going out and what not.
Have 10-day assessment before new session: S Madhusudhan, Vice President, NISA
The lockdown is going to have far reaching changes. The schools were closed just before the assessment. Promoting students without an assessment would prove detrimental, says Madhusudhan.
He stresses on the need for an assessment, not to detain students but to make them understand and know where they stand and in which subject they need to brush up. “After all, does not teaching and learning lead to a proper assessment,” he argues.
Given the present situation, the supply of text books too will be delayed and this time could be fruitfully used for assessment.
Learning momentum would be lost
Several studies prove that the forgetting curve among students is as much as 70 per cent and continuous learning is important, says he.
Majority have no access to online teaching
The budget schools and Government schools are ill-equipped to go full-hog into online teaching. A few schools are making attempts but the results are far from satisfactory. Students of these schools need guidance from parents as well.
Syllabus could be reduced till Grade 8: A Murali Mukund
Extraordinary circumstances need extraordinary measures. With the corona virus pandemic affecting all walks of life, more so schools, the need for reducing the syllabus is an option says A Murali Mukund, Chairman, Jubilee Hills Public School, Hyderabad.
While CBSE schools can reduce the syllabus till Grade 8 owing to unavoidable circumstances, the CBSE Board needs to take a decision for Grade 9 and 10.
Murali Mukund says, “It is a possibility but has to be done with a lot of care and thought. There are a few topics that are repeated in all classes, such as a lesson on pollution. Such topics could be avoided.” He adds, “It is only a thought, needs proper deliberation and discussion.”
There are several challenges ranging from transport, seating arrangement, hygiene, playtime, social distancing at all times in school. “We are already receiving a number of queries from parents on how we would arrange transport. How we would ensure the safety of children.”
Schools may now also think of appointing a doctor. The Government needs to take a decision and frame guidelines for schools for the new academic session.
There are several issues apart from academics. How we would incorporate ayahs, drivers and sub-staff into the system. What measures we need to take.
Reluctant teachers have now come on tech-board: K Santosh Kumar
“The bright spot, if one may point out during the lockdown is the welcoming trend of teachers coming online and delivering classes,” says K Santosh Kumar, Chairman, Navyabharathi Global School, Nizamabad.
It is a well-known fact that a certain section of teachers has been reluctant to jump onto the virtual world, so much so that many teachers until recently did not even use WhatsApp says Santosh.
Narrating about a recent online meeting with teachers, a beaming Santosh said that a teacher said that he would now consider tuition classes also on online platform. It not only saves time but is effective.
Due to the lockdown, teachers have no choice but to go online. Initially, a few teachers had problems but once they got a hang of it, it is a cake walk.
Santosh said for students who stay in Nizamabad there is no problem but those who went to their respective villages, it was difficult as they need to depend only on mobile data.
A teacher quipped, “In the future we could take special classes online.”
One thing is for sure, the corona scare has changed the perspective of one and all and schools will not be the same ever again.
Extra-curricular activities may be reduced: C V Rama Devi
The focus as far as our school is concerned is on skill development rather than content, said C V Rama Devi, Unicent School, Kompally, Hyderabad. The coronavirus scare has made schools to sit up and introspect.
The immediate action that all schools took was to go online with the aim that students do not miss much.
Looking at the academic year, Ramadevi feels that extracurricular activities would have to be curtailed, if not shown the door completely. With the pressure of lost time, schools would make adjustments and reduce cultural and sporting activities. The effect would be school day, annual day, sports day and other events in the calendar.
The emphasis would be on skill and not content. There is also a possibility that initially schools may allow only 50 per cent of the students to school on alternate days.
Small children restless
As much as they like to be at home, after a point small children are turning restless. “They miss social interaction and the activities in school.
What happens when parents go back to work
This is a question that is on everyone’s mind. Presently, parents are helping children and letting them use their laptops. Many children need parents help to come online.
Continuity in learning, biggest challenge: Maruthi Ramprasad Pelluri
Online teaching should be used for transformation during this gestation period. It should fill the gap. Online teaching can complement conventional teaching and later merged. There can be a beautiful marriage between online and conventional teaching.
Bringing back students to conventional platform could be much harder. There is no doubt that online teaching has its advantages but it cannot replace face-to-face teaching, believes Maruthi Ramprasad Pelluri, Principal, Ramadevi Public School, Hyderabad.
Bringing them on same pace of learning would be a challenge. After a long gap, focus on academics will be shifted.
Challenges of teaching ICSE
For the completion of ICSE syllabus, 1,000 hours of teaching is needed and for Class XII, 1,200 hours. “We need to teach in different models and that is a huge task. Reduction of syllabus and reducing some topics is something the ICSE Board needs to decide.”
There are 50 ICSE schools in Telangana and 2,500 across the country.
Students applying to universities abroad are affected badly: Pratima Sinha, CEO, DSR Education Society, Birla Open Minds School
Children who are seeking admission abroad and taking competitive exams may face the brunt.
It would be better if it gets extended. Prevention is better than cure. Lockdown extension till end of May, it can start in June. Online classes going on from pre-primary to Grade XII. Yoga classes are also going on. Live classes are happening by teachers. In a way children are not missing out.
Teachers are constantly talking to students. If there is a delay, and several activities, morning assembly may be changed. Peer learning and sports activities may be affected at the moment.
Populist measures killing schools: Amarnath Vasireddy, Director, SLATE – The School, Hyderabad
The State Governments in their eagerness to play the populism card, are making life difficult for private schools. For instance, the Odisha CM asked schools not to collect fee for one academic year, there cannot be a crazier idea. It is tantamount to instigating parents against schools.
Populism is making schools look like criminals. Schools function on a no loss, no profit motto and have to pay salaries to teachers and take care of several costs. Statements such as the one by the Odisha Chief Minister does not make it easy for schools. Parents already are not paying fee on time.
It is a time for professional development of teachers as well: Sunitha S Rao, Principal, DPS Nacharam
Thanks to online teaching, students are not missing out much. It is an opportunity even for teachers to upgrade themselves and keep abreast with the latest developments in the world of education. Our teachers are doing online certification course from University of Pennsylvania.
Not receiving children till June is best. Running online classes. Hopefully, early or end of June. Generally, all students cannot go online but for last three years we are running
Creative element every day, through online, music, dance, artistic expression,9 30 to 1 o clock.
10-12 class teachers call 1/3rd of parents every day.
Till 8 class we have freedom to plan the syllabus. We are keeping the spirits of children high.
We closed previous academic year in all respects, key areas of concern is Class XII, many have taken core subjects. Not meeting teachers and no time table in front, many applied for foreign universities. Class XI,