Written by Abha Goradia | Mumbai | Published: May 23, 2020 3:55:47 am

coronavirus, maharashtra lockdown, maharashtra schools, maharashtra education minister, varsha gaikwad, maharashtra schools examination, indian express news Many schools which cater to students belonging to lower middle-class families stare at a bigger issue of dropouts once classes begin. (Representational Photo)

As uncertainty continues to prevail over the physical reopening of schools for the new academic year, educationists feel a “one-size-fits-all” solution will not work.

These experts feel multiple methods of learning have to be deployed once schools begin. While reopening schools quickly is not being considered a good idea, school managements have also ruled out conducting an entire academic year online.

In Vidarbha region, state board schools usually begin by June 26, whereas in other areas the date is June 15. Even though School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad, in recent remarks, expressed the department’s intention to begin schools as per the usual date, officials said no plan has yet been finalised. Last week, the minister and department authorities held a meeting with over 35 educators in the state, where the general view was that schools should only begin after July.

“We have a 70 per cent attendance to our online classes and have kept track of the 30 per cent who are not able to attend due to unavailability of resources. We will manually attend to them once school starts. Twenty per cent of our parents have moved out of the city but most are Maharashtrians and we are hopeful of their return,” said Rajendra Pradhan, president, DS High School, adding that schools that cater to non-Maharashtrian students will face a greater challenge of retaining students.

Many schools which cater to students belonging to lower middle-class families stare at a bigger issue of dropouts once classes begin. “Our aim is to ensure that students don’t drop out,” said Janaki Hari, trustee of Swami Vivekanand School in Govandi. “25 per cent students don’t have internet availability. We feel schools should ideally start in July-September and we can then provide extra classes to students who could not attend online lectures,” she added.

Staggered shifts, cutting down vacations and scaling down of syllabus are some options being considered by schools. “We believe we should start from August 1, in two shifts by the same teachers. Even though we began our year as per ICSE timetable in March, online teaching cannot equal physical teaching. While we are right now administering activity oriented syllabi, we should have a regular timetable June onward,” said Babitha Abraham, principal, Villa Theresa School.

Schools are also bracing themselves to deal with parents’ responses regarding sending their wards to schools. “We don’t know how many parents would be okay sending their children. So we are looking at a hybrid model because one solution cannot fit all,” said Anvita Bir, principal, R N Poddar School, adding that the school may consider teaching online on certain days along with offline, since space will become a constraint even if the strength is divided into three shifts.

Plan A and Plan B have been explained to all parents by Gopi Birla Memorial School principal Dr Veena Shrivastava. In Plan A, an academic calendar has been charted out in case regular school reopens by June 1. In case it doesn’t, the school still plans to start on June 1 virtually, through pre-recorded lectures and a separate schedule, said Shrivastava.

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