Several schools are planning to discontinue online classes and some are in the process of phasing them out as they prepare for a new academic session, which starts in April, to get children used to attending on-campus activities.
Children have to return to school and many might not be inclined to do so if they are given a choice of attending online classes, the heads of at least two schools said.
The government has allowed schools to resume in-person lessons for all classes since February 16 and many schools are preparing children for in-person classes for reduced hours or fewer days in a week.
These are in preparation for a full-fledged session starting April with no simultaneous online classes.
In a hybrid mode, where some students are in class and the rest have the sessions live streamed to them, a teacher cannot do justice to both groups, a principal said.
“We don’t want to keep any confusion or doubt that children can stay at home. They have to come to school physically and get back to a normal routine,” said Terence Ireland, principal of St James’ School, where full-fledged in-person classes will start in April.
Several schools had kept open the option of live-streaming of lectures when they briefly reopened for students of Classes IX to XII in November last year.
But students of Classes X and XII had to compulsorily go to school to appear in semester 1 board exams (CBSE and ISC/ICSE) in November and December.
Many schools have scheduled offline annual exams for Classes IX and XI and rehearsal exams for Classes X and XII in February and March. The exams are expected to help students get used to campus life again.
“If they have a choice and if the content is sent home, students might not take the hassle of… coming to school. It is high time they returned to school, not just for academic reasons… their social skills and confidence level have gone for a toss, too,” said Anjana Saha, principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy.
Schools also feel that it is difficult for teachers to do justice to two groups of students.
“It is not possible for teachers to keep standing in front of the screen. If she does so, she won’t be effective in a classroom where children, especially juniors, demand attention. With 25 students in front of her, it would be difficult for her to focus on those attending classes from home,” said Seema Sapru, principal of The Heritage School, which is calling children for offline classes in phases.
But Sapru said support would be provided to students who are at home.
“We have to see how the pandemic pans out… and there is no substitute for calling students back to the campus,” said Krishna Damani, trustee of South Point.
Damani, however, said assignments would be sent online. Students can also participate in quizzes from home.
Schools that had planned to conduct both online and offline classes encountered problems midway.
“We had planned to have a section for those opting for online classes but we discontinued that because children will not be able to connect with a new teacher at the end of the session. We will be doing offline classes only,” said Suvina Shunglu, principal of Sri Sri Academy.
While ISC/ICSE and CBSE schools are approaching the end of an academic session, the schools affiliated to the Bengal board are just three months into a new academic year.
“We have just started our session and parents requested that we should have offline classes. We have reduced the seven periods to five,” said Father Francis Jimmy Keepuram, principal of St Lawrence High School.