Covid-19: Delhi schools set to continue online classes after summer break

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While schools in Delhi will reopen after the summer break next month, classes are likely to continue to be conducted virtually, amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Officials at both government and private schools said that with infections surging in the national capital, chances of calling students to school are bleak for July.

While junior classes (nursery to class 8) enjoyed a summer break from May 11, classes for the rest shut from May 29. With the country going into a lockdown to contain the spread of the virus on March 25, schools too were shut.

Schools switched to learning via video conferencing, recorded video and audio lectures over WhatsApp, and activities on emails.

Both the CBSE and the NCERT are revising the syllabi and the assessment process for the academic year 2020-21 in view of the disruption brought about by the pandemic. Several private schools in Delhi are conducting teachers’ training programmes next week to prepare them for online classes.

Manju Sethi, principal of Bluebells School International, said that the school will first conduct two-day class-wise orientation for the students. “On July 1 and 2, we will speak to our students via video conferencing to brief them about the situation. It’s not a normal situation and we’ll have to inform them about the changes CBSE and NCERT will bring to the syllabus and assessment process this year. This will be followed by regular online classes. Earlier in April, we had to suddenly switch the mode of learning. Our teachers are preparing themselves to better use technology now,” she said.

Ameeta Wattal, principal of Springdales School, said, “From Monday onwards we will hold a week-long training session for our teachers to prepare the pedagogies of online classes. We will try to make them as inclusive and interactive as possible. The school will resume online classes in the first week of July.”

Following complaints from parents about their children spending a lot of time in front of the screens, some schools are also planning to increase offline activities.

“We have reduced the screen time by 25–30% for all the classes with more activities-based work to the students. Now, teachers will send them briefings and the students will do the work at home. We are even ready with the timetable also,” said Jyoti Arora, principal of Mount Abu School in Rohini. The school will resume online classes from July 1.

The Directorate of Education (DoE) also plans to resume online activities in their schools from July first week. Binay Bhushan, director of the DoE, said the government schools will resume online classes through video conferencing and activities through WhatsApp and SMS.

“This time we will come up with a wider outreach programme to cover maximum students. We have also distributed books to the students. It will be easier for them now, comparatively,” he said. The government has been planning to rope in a TV channel to broadcast classes.

The schools under the east civic body have also been asked to prepare worksheets for students who do not have access to devices and the internet. Vibha Singh, principal of an east MCD school in Gandhi Nagar, said, “The teachers have been asked to prepare the worksheets so that parents whose kids do not have access to online learning can collect them from schools. In this way, we can engage the students at home without devices.”

Some parents fear that their students will be excluded from the education system. “The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the poor. My two sons could not attend any online class in April and May due to the lack of a device. The situation is still not favourable to open schools. How will kids like my sons study?” said Joginder, a mason, whose two sons are enrolled in a government school in Karawal Nagar.

Others such as Darshan Ram,17, a class 12 student at Bluebells School International, misses going to school. “I had ever imagined that I would not get a chance to wear my uniform even once in the final school year. I miss my friends. I miss the classroom environment and the hundreds of activities we used to do in school. I am just hoping I get a chance to wear my school uniform just for once before graduating. There is so much uncertainty about the reopening of schools,” he said.