Suddenly homes turned into classrooms; phones and laptops became the new era schooling tools; and examination from home, became a reality. That is how the coronavirus drastically changed the education in 2020, forcing closures of schools and colleges. The ‘new normal’ of online classes, however, got mixed reactions especially when majority of Indian students, especially in lower income groups and those in remote areas do not have the access to internet and other such technologies.
While it gave rise to new technology-driven learning methods, the lockdown ended up disrupting an entire academic year – board exams were either cancelled or postponed, students promoted without exams, and parents continue to face difficulties in paying school fees.
However, the month of January will see reopening of schools, colleges and universities in various Indian states after months of online classes and examinations causing anxiety and discomfort to students, teachers and parents. Students have been either called in different batches or only Classes 9 to 12 students have been asked to attend the schools. Various states have issues Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) for all the educational institutions.
Some states have already started the physical classes. Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Puducherry, Kerala, Karnataka and Assam have reopened a majority of state-owned schools especially for students of Classes 10 and 12 who will be writing board exams in 2021. Tamil Nadu and Mumbai’s local bodies have announced they will reopen schools after discussing it with parents and teachers. Madhya Pradesh had earlier cancelled the winter vacations for schools from December 26 to December 31, 2020 to prepare students for CBSE board exams and final exams.
Keeping in view of the circumstances, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) board examinations 2021 will be significantly different from the 2020 and earlier versions. For one, the Class 10 and Class 12 board exams will be held in May, instead of February and March. Apart from the shift in the exam calendar, there are other changes including reduction in the syllabus, changes in exam pattern and marking scheme. These were introduced to compensate for the classes and teaching time lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the CBSE board exams 2021 (theoretical) are set to begin on May 4.
To ensure smooth conduct of the examinations, state education departments have been framing policies to allow for offline exams to be conducted in line with the COVID-19 protocols. The government has issued a set of guidelines according to which no symptomatic staff or student will be allowed in the campus. Sanitization of the classrooms, wearing of the face masks, social distancing will be strictly followed. Students visiting the school will be with the parental consent.
After such a long gap and fear of corona has indeed played a havoc psychologically, it has become almost inevitable to reopen schools to make feel life normal and let the children be allowed for a normal education rather than a limited learning. It will help ease the teachers burden of making PPTs’ day- in and day-out. With schools taking all necessary precautions, there is no room for fear and anxiety. Let students have a right to attend normal school life and become learned citizens of tomorrow.