Schools are permitted to collect admission and tuition fee irrespective of whether they have or not taken online classes of students during the coronavirus lockdown, the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled today while hearing the petitions filed by private school associations in Punjab. The schools, however, can't increase the fee until they provide evidence to the local authorities that their expenditures are not being met with the existing fee structure, it said.
"All schools irrespective whether they offered online classes during the lock-down period or not, are entitled to collect the tuition fee. However, they will continue to endeavour and impart online/distance learning so that education is not adversely impacted due to the present or future lockdowns imposed due to COVID-19," the court said in its order.
"The schools shall restrain themselves for the reasons, as mentioned above, from increasing the fee for the year 2020-21 and adopt the same fee structure as of 2019- 20...In case any school is facing a financial crunch for not having charged the increased fee for the year 2020-21, may move a representation to the District Education Officer alongwith proof of the same," it added.
As annual charges, the school must recover genuine expenditure incurred - including transport and building charges - but must not charge fee or facility towards which no expenditure took place during the lockdown period, it said.
"Any parent not able to pay the school fee in the above terms may file their application along with necessary proof about their financial status, which shall be looked into by the school- authority and, after looking into it sympathetically, give concession or exempt the entire fee, as the case may be," the court said, adding no parent shall misuse the concession by laying a false claim.
Schools and colleges across the country have been shut since the centre announced countrywide lockdown to check coronavirus growth in March. Many institutions have been imparting education through mobile applications.