For the first time in two years, private tricity schools are all fully open in offline mode, with the new academic session (2022-23) starting from Monday.
Schools had remained largely closed for the past two years, only opening offline classes for brief periods when online classes were taking place simultaneously, due to pandemic-induced restrictions that came into effect in March 2020.
In public schools, meanwhile, since final exams are still ongoing, a call on when to start offline classes for the new school year has yet to be taken.
The UT Department of Education has not issued any instructions regarding the reopening of schools, however, the principals of most private schools have confirmed that they will no longer have online classes.
Independent Schools Association (ISA) President HS Mamik said, “UT’s Department of Education had a meeting with the schools where we asked for their permission to only go offline. line. While children are free to go out for other activities, keeping them away from classrooms is detrimental.
Even before the third wave, attendance had exceeded 90% in the lower grades of Vivek High School, Sector 38, Mamik added.
Principal of St Stephens School, Area 45, Louis Lopez added: ‘We will also be opening lessons from Monday. An overwhelming majority of parents have themselves asked us to resume offline lessons and this is also important for the students. »
Principal of Saupin School, ABS Sidhu, added: “Students must be present at school to integrate with other students and teachers, as this is necessary for their academic and social growth.”
UT District Education Officer (DEO) Prabhjot Kaur said, “We are awaiting orders from higher authorities and a final call regarding the reopening of schools in offline mode will be taken soon.”
Long queues in front of bookstores
As schools are about to reopen, parents had a tough time over the weekend as they waited in long queues outside bookshops in Sectors 19 and 22 to buy course books and back-to-school supplies. This is an annual feature in tricity, but queues of this magnitude had not been seen during the closures.
Manju, a relative from Panchkula who was queuing outside the Sector 19 bookstore, said: “I arrived at the shop around 9am but couldn’t get the books until around 2pm.
Many people also took to social media to point out that they had to wait in line for six hours in the sweltering heat. Many have also accused schools of colluding with bookstores and, in turn, causing inconvenience to parents.
Chandigarh Parents Association (CPA) Chairman Nitin Goyal said: “In accordance with the orders of the Madras High Court and the Ministry of Human Resources and Development, the Chandigarh administration has issued instructions to all private schools to only prescribe NCERT books. But many private schools have ignored these guidelines and the Ministry of Education has yet to take any action against them. Private schools say parents are free to buy textbooks from anywhere, but prescribed books are such that they are only available at one store.
On ways to improve the situation, Mamik said: “It’s a logistical problem. More than 80,000 students visit the same tricity bookstores around the same time. Many schools offer the possibility of buying books at school, but only a few parents opt for this. More parents should consider doing this.
Similarly, long queues were also seen at stores selling school uniforms in Sector 19.