No guidelines, yet schools begin online classes in Telangana

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Hyderabad: Even as uncertainty hovers over reopening of educational institutions in the State, several private schools have already launched virtual classes, while some are planning to start from Monday. This is even when the State government is yet to issue any guidelines on online classes.

“There are no instructions yet from the State government on online classes. A decision will be taken by the Cabinet sub-committee,” Education Department officials said, adding that the State was waiting for guidelines from the Centre.

Hyderabad District Educational Officer, Venkata Narsamma said, “We are yet to get any guidelines on conducting online classes.” Also, the State government is yet to release the academic calender for 2020-21.

Meanwhile, under the cover of online classes, several schools are insisting on parents to pay fee. In fact, some school managements, which are insisting that students wear uniforms for online classes, are also barring students who have not paid their fee from accessing the online classes.

There are also schools that are flouting the State government’s directive not to hike the fee or to collect only tuition fee on monthly basis. They are charging various fee under categories such as sports, activity and mess among others, with parents forced to pay since they do not want their wards to lag behind in academics.

The dilemma of the parents does not end with the fee. Many have been forced to purchase new laptops or tablets besides getting broadband connections. The situation is particularly harsh for families with more than one child, as both children will need separate devices to attend online classes.

The plight of working parents is an entirely different chapter. “Children should be constantly monitored for their activity during the online classes as they may open different tabs or play games while being online,” said Ashish Naredi, a parent.

There is another side too, that of the effectiveness of online classes.

“Online classes are not effective and are tough on children. It is difficult for them to maintain attention for a long time. As students sit for hours before the monitor, it will affect their sight and backbone in the long run,” Seema Agarwal, a parent, said.

As if these tribulations are not enough, some managements are using multiple platforms, making for it difficult for the students. Some are using the Zoom app or Google Meet for classes, while other applications such as Google Classroom have to be used for homework and projects. All these have different login credentials, which is another major confusion for parents and students.

“The virtual classes are for about five hours starting from 8.30 am with a break of just five minutes between each class. After classes, the child has to work on online assignments and homework, which means, he or she is spending the entire day in front of the laptop or tablet,” points out a parent, who says Telangana should follow the example of Karnataka in banning online classes for children below Class V.

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