Satyabrata Sahu, school and mass education secretary, said the government has made several provisions to carry out teaching and learning processes for students during the pandemic. But he agreed that they could not reach out to all the school students through online classes.
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“There is a problem reaching out to the students through online classes because of the mobile connectivity issue. Keeping this problem in mind, the state government has taken the decision to reopen the schools for students of certain classes,” said Sahu.
He said they can reach out to 40 per cent of the students through online classes. The remaining 60 per cent of the students could not access the online classes because of the mobile network issues, he added.
Sahu said online classes will continue like before. “It is not mandatory for students to attend school. It all depends on the decision of the district collector to reopen the schools of his/her district. The schools will open at 10 am and close at 1.30pm. The academic year will start from July 2021 and end in April 2022,” he added.
More than 10 lakh students of Class X and Class XII in Odisha prepare for different national level entrance examinations like JEE/NEET/CLAT and for their annual board examinations. After school closure, these students have lost around 150 days of regular classes. “They need to understand the link concept of their courses before sitting for examinations. In view of this, we took the decision to reopen schools,” said Sahu.
This order will be applicable for all government and private schools. The school and mass education department will issue a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the schools in order to conduct the classes by following all Covid-19 guidelines. All teachers will get vaccinated against Covid-19 on a priority basis. All district education officers are directed to keep school premises clean and follow Covid-19 guidelines including use of thermal scanning, mask and hand sanitization in the schools. Schools, which are conducting Class X board examinations, will open after the examination is over, said the department sources.
If the schools are closed because of Covid restriction or any other reasons in future, the department has decided to hold continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) by the Board of Secondary Education (BSE) for the Class IX and Class X students for the first time. Students and their parents should take this process seriously as these examinations will help the board to publish the results of the students.
The department has planned to conduct four formative assessments and two summative assessments. These examinations will be conducted by the class teacher or subject teachers by September second week, November first week, January second week and March second week. Detailed guidelines will be issued on this comprehensive evaluation soon, said the official sources.
Odisha secondary school teachers’ association (OSSTA) has welcomed the decision of the government to open schools in the state. “Schools can follow the Covid guidelines and hold the classes smoothly. We are also welcoming the decision of the government to start CCE by the BSE. It will help the board to publish the results of the students if Covid does not allow the examinations later. We were demanding this system earlier,” said Prakash Chandra Mohanty, general secretary of OSSTA.
Rakesh Palai, a class X student from Ganjam district, said he could not attend many online classes due to lack of a smartphone. “After opening of the school, I will clear my doubts on different topics. I welcome this decision,” he added.