COVID-19 And Online Education In 2020
For children in at least half a dozen states, including Odisha, Karnataka, Delhi, schools will resume only in 2021. Although the Centre allowed states to reopen schools partially in September and fully in October, most states have either staggered the reopening by allowing only senior classes, or chosen to shut down for the rest of 2020. Since the lockdown was enforced on March 24, state and central governments have attempted to move teaching online but no aspect of schooling -- classes, exams, school lunches -- remain unaffected.
Here's how the COVID-19 pandemic affected schooling and what the states did about it:
Delhi Was First To Close Schools
Delhi became the first state to shut down primary schools on March 5 followed by Manipur, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh. On March 24, the Centre announced a nationwide lockdown closing all schools.
Classes Moved Online
Delhi was the first state to announce online classes in March and in June, Karnataka became the first to issue guidelines for online school classes. The Education Minister released ‘Pragyta' guidelines on July 15 suggesting a daily 30-minute online class for pre-primary students, two online sessions of 45 minutes each for Classes 1 to 8 and four sessions of 35-40 minutes each for Classes 9 to 12. ‘‘eVIDYA' programme was launched to bring together the government's efforts on digital education and broadcast educational content on 12 dedicated television channels. National Council for Education, Research and Training (NCERT) released alternative academic calendars
Fight Over School Fees
With businesses closed, parents struggled to pay school fees. At least nine states including Delhi, Karnataka,Gujarat, Maharashtra and Odisha directed private schools to only charge the tuition fee from the students. The High Courts of Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Gujarat also issued directions to schools favouring parents but were reprimanded by the Supreme Court. The fight over school fees continues..
Exams, Syllabus, Promotion Criteria Changed
The government issued an advisory in March 2020 to promote all the students from Class 1 to 8 on the basis of previous exams and assignments as the final examinations, usually held in March, were disrupted by the lockdown. Some states promoted students in higher classes as well and practical classes were not held at all. Given this situation, exam boards across states reduced the syllabus for the 2021 board exams. The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) reduced it by 30%.
In September the Union Government allowed states to reopen schools for higher classes from September 21 and the Health Ministry issued safety guidelines. States including Haryana and Jharkhand reopened their schools partially from September 21.
In its Unlock 5 guidelines, the Centre allowed states and the union territories to decide on reopening educational institutions from Class 9 onwards. The Health Ministry also issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Opening And Closing
Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Gurugram reopened their schools for Classes 9 to 12 from October 15 in a phased manner. Several states, including Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Goa, Karnataka, and Kerala, decided not to.
States like Assam and Haryana had to reverse their decision to reopen after several teaching and non-teaching staff were found positive.
Karnataka even cancelled its online classes and declared a mid-term holiday from October 12 to 30 as many teachers tested positive for COVID-19.
By December, Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said, 17 states, including Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra, have already fully or partially reopened schools. Most of the schools are conducting in-person practical classes while the theory classes continue online.
However, several states chose not to reopen and will do so only in 2021. Karnataka, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry will reopen schools from January 1.