According to the guidelines for online education released by the Tamil Nadu government, each session may have 30-45 minutes of curricular delivery, and there should be a break of 10-15 minutes between each session so that children can rest their eyes and relax.
For students of Classes 1-8, online classes may be undertaken for not more than two sessions a day and for students of Classes 9-12, not more than four sessions. For pre-primary classes, online classes cannot be scheduled; schools are encouraged to conduct online sessions of not more than 30 minutes to interact with the parents and guide them.
Following an interim direction from the Madras High Court asking the government to come out with clear guidelines for online classes, the government has drawn up State-specific rules, factoring in the Pragyata guidelines issued by the Central government and the inputs from the School Education Commissioner, the Directors of School Education, matriculation schools and the State Council for Educational Research and Training. A government order with State-specific guidelines was issued on July 29 by School Education Department Secretary Dheeraj Kumar as an advisory.
Seeking to address concerns over the digital divide, schools have been asked not to compel children to attend online classes and not to use terms such as ‘compulsory’ or say that it will be counted for attendance and grades because it may build feelings of stress or deprivation. While the guidelines state that schools can do assessments, they insist that none of the assessments be made mandatory or counted for the final grade or marking.
Schools have been asked to plan activities keeping in mind the fact that students might have either minimum or maximum access to facilities to take part in online learning. While the guidelines state that schools should ensure that disadvantaged students, first-generation learners and children with special needs find opportunities to learn digitally, institutions have been asked to work out an alternate mode of education if this is not possible, and ensure that these students are given intense coaching after schools are reopened.
The guidelines state that as far as possible, it is best to avoid separate learning groups for students with special needs and they should be treated on a par with their peers.
In the event of online classes happening simultaneously for more than one child in a family, it has been suggested that schools informally establish a protocol that the elder child gets access to the device if there is a shortage. Many private schools began online classes in March after the lockdown and a majority of the institutions have been conducting online classes for the new academic year since June.