The source said a consensus was reached at the highest level to reopen the elementary schools, as students have been the worst sufferers during closure of physical classes. The inability of children, especially those below class V, to understand the lessons through online mode made the task of imparting the lessons even more challenging for the teachers.
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Considering health concerns, the source, however, added that each class may be allowed on campus three days a week initially. “From October 19, offline classes for students of classes I to VIII will resume. Every class may be allowed to function through offline mode on alternate days initially,” a senior official of the state education department told TOI.
Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recently announced that physical classes for class IX, XI and degree second year will restart from October 1. But the sources informed that class XI will reopen from October 19.
While the kids are at risk of lasting psychological distress due to prolonged confinement at home, as opined by mental health experts, the teachers want the government to allow offline classes even before October 19.
“In some districts, the administration has asked government teachers to visit households to take classes. In such a situation there is more risk of the virus spreading. But if the students are allowed to sit in classrooms after thermal screening, it will be safer. Anyway, the elementary school teachers have started going to schools for official work,” said Assam State Primary Teachers’ Association (ASPTA) general secretary Ratul Chandra Goswami.
He said online classes for elementary students of government schools failed to yield any fruitful outcome as nearly 80% of the students could not reap the benefits. “It is a punishment for the teachers who are travelling many miles to their schools and returning home without taking any class. Being salaried persons, we cannot oppose the government directive but students are not benefiting,” Goswami added.
Cent per cent attendance was recorded in some of the city schools in Assam when physical classes for class X resumed last week after a gap of more than four months. However, the overall response was disappointing. In most districts, the attendance was less than 50% on the first day. But attendance in schools is gradually improving since there have been no reports of major Covid infection on campuses.
Education department officials are expecting a good response for the elementary level (classes I to VIII) as well.
“From 47%, the class X attendance has improved to around 80% in our district. Guardians now have the faith that the children are safe on the campus and the government is sincerely following Covid protocols,” said Lakhimpur district inspector of schools, Ramesh Chutia.