The expert committee established by the Department of Primary and Secondary Education to look into the reopening of schools wants all pre-primary and lower primary classes opened from August 2. Committee members have suggested that all classes on campus should resume at the earliest. However, a source in the committee said that if the government is keen on a phased reopening, then classes I to V should be prioritised.
“We have suggested that students in classes I to III should attend school in the morning, while those enrolled in classes IV and V can come to school in the afternoon. After a week, physical classes for students in classes VI to second pre-university can be reopened,” the source said.
The committee has suggested that classes on campus be held at least six days a week for three hours every day. “Classes should be held every day so that there is continuity in learning. Young children learn best through face-to-face interactions with adults and online learning should be the last resort,” the source added.
Schools with a low number of students can resume classes in full strength. But in cases where the number of students enrolled is high, classes have to be conducted in multiple batches. As schools will function for limited hours, homework material can be given to students, the committee has suggested.
An interim report drawn up by the committee, which is yet to be submitted to the government, stated that all teachers, non-teaching staff, and School Development and Monitoring Committee members should be vaccinated with at least one dose before school commences.
Members will be meeting the Commissioner for Public Instruction, who heads the committee, on Friday to discuss the recommendations. Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar said the committee would submit its report on Monday or Tuesday. However, despite the committee’s recommendations, the government is not keen on restarting primary classes. “We are considering starting high school and PU classes first,” said Mr. Kumar.
The committee has also suggested that the government should reduce and revise the curriculum and modify the academic year to bridge the learning gap so as to achieve minimum learning outcomes. The interim report recommends that holidays be cancelled or shortened to achieve this goal.
The committee has also suggested considering the next two years as an emergency “build back” period. It has batted for active learning from August 2021 to May 2023. A minimum of 300 actual teaching and learning days is necessary.