A section of students of Classes I to VIII will be returning to their respective campuses on Monday, after a gap of nearly 20 months. The COVID-19 pandemic had resulted in the closure of schools in March 2020.
Though many institutions have decided to conduct physical classes by following the safety protocol, some have opted to wait and watch before following suit.
While allowing schools to function, the School Education Department emphasised that the “happiness of students” was a priority. It has framed directives that will determine how the next few weeks will play out for students of government and aided schools.
“Over the next 10 to 15 days, our focus will be on reminding students that schools are happy spaces and ensuring the environment remains welcoming to them. For students of Classes I and II in particular, who have never attended classes on campus, we are asking schools not to be rigid about timings, and allay the concerns of parents whenever needed,” an official said.
The Directorate of Elementary Education stated that for a fortnight or so, the focus will be on encouraging students to participate in activities, including sharing of experiences, storytelling, music, dance and drawing. The State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) has prepared a bridge course, which will be taken up after the first two weeks for all classes.
A host of safety rules, many of which were implemented when schools reopened for students of Classes IX to XII in September, will be enforced. They include mask wearing and physical distancing at all times.
“We will be resuming classes in a phased manner, and have Classes VI to VIII first on campus,” said Priyanka Ghosh, principal, Vikas Mantra Public School. Ms. Ghosh said the school had an academic planner in place for November, largely focused on activities and interactive sessions for children.
“Instead of jumping head first into their textbook lessons, we will have activities based on listening, speaking, reading and writing skills for English and other language classes. Younger children in particular have not had much writing practice, and we will encourage them to write and complete the worksheets that they were previously attempting online,” she said. “For teachers, the mantra is to be patient with the children, give them a lot of breaks, and listen to what they have to say about being back in school,” she added.
Many schools are planning to welcome students with colourful classrooms, music, sweets and new notebooks.
“For the parents of some students of Classes I and II, who would like to wait on campus during classes for the first few days, we have readied space. One of the main concerns that were put forth was whether young students will wear masks for several hours, and we have decided to give them breaks, when they will be taken to an outdoor space and allowed to take their masks off for a few minutes while maintaining physical distance,” said N. Vijayan, patron, Unified Self-Financing Schools’ Association, and Chairman, Zion group of schools.
P.K. Ilamaran, president, Tamil Nadu Teachers’ Association, said schools should consistently follow up with students about their physical and mental health and ask students to inform them if any of their family members develop symptoms of COVID-19. “All teaching and non-teaching staff across most schools have been vaccinated, and we have experience implementing safety norms when senior students returned to campuses in September. Some schools with less space have chosen to accommodate students of only two to three classes per day on campus to avoid crowding.”