Consultations held on reopening of Tamil Nadu schools

Mixed response from parents with a section expressed apprehensions about reopening schools while others complained about online lessons.

Updated - November 10, 2020 03:28 am IST

Published - November 10, 2020 01:18 am IST - CHENNAI

Parents attending a review meeting with the respective teachers at a Government aided school in Mylapore, on November 9, 2020.

Parents attending a review meeting with the respective teachers at a Government aided school in Mylapore, on November 9, 2020.

Government, aided and private schools across the State held consultations with parents on Monday to obtain their feedback on whether schools should reopen for Classes 9 to 12 on November 16, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The State government is expected to take a final decision based on the feedback.

While a section of parents expressed apprehensions about reopening of schools in the midst of a global pandemic, others complained that children were unable to comprehend online lessons.

Ahead of the meetings, the School Education Department sent a standard format to all schools, using which they were expected to collate the feedback from parents for submission.

The government is expected to make an announcement before Deepavali. 

At the Everwin group of schools in Chennai, parents, who were divided into batches, participated in the meeting in large numbers. “Parents were largely divided — while some had safety concerns, others said children were starting to feel cooped up inside their house,” said B. Purushothaman, senior principal and correspondent. 

Many of the parents who took part in consultations in Tiruchi district expressed apprehensions about sending their children to school until a clear picture emerged on the spread of COVID-19, citing safety concerns.

“Just eight parents in relation to 40 students of Class 10 in the matriculation stream have expressed their willingness to send their wards to school. Most parents are not in favour of reopening schools now,” said C. Sundara Raman, secretary, Cauvery Schools, Tiruchi.

There was a mixed response from parents at meetings held in schools across Madurai district. 

R. Murugeswari, headmistress of Kasturiba Gandhi Corporation Girls’ Higher Secondary School, said most of the parents wanted the schools to reopen as they had raised concerns about online classes. “The parents said students are unable to understand the lessons through online classes. In the event of the reopening of schools, they insisted that safety precautions should be strictly followed at schools,” she added.

The heads of schools in Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Tenkasi also said they had received varying responses from parents. Those who were for the reopening of schools cited accessibility and connectivity issues. 

“We live in a village near Sankarankovil and have mobile phone connectivity issues. Our children were previously staying in hostels, but we are now forced to leave them alone at home while we go to work,” said a few parents from Sankarankovil and surrounding villages who had come to a girls’ higher secondary school near Palayamkottai bus-stand to give their suggestions.

The consultations held in Coimbatore, Tiruppur and the Nilgiris districts also saw a mixed response from parents. 

While some wanted students of Classes 10 and 12 to attend physical sessions to prepare better for the board examinations, others expressed apprehensions about students travelling to the campuses every day by bus. 

A parent in Udhagamandalam said schools should not reopen immediately after Deepavali, as some children would have travelled or had visitors for the festival. 

In Salem and Namakkal too, parents were invited to the schools amidst strict safety norms to share their feedback. 

Parents across the State who were for the reopening of schools for Classes 9 to 12 attributed their decision, among other things, to the fact that students taking the board exams needed some form of face-to-face interaction with their teachers. Even in the form handed out by the School Education Department, schools had been directed to ask parents of children in Classes 10 and 12 separately if they were in favour of schools reopening. 

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