In order to avoid crowding and ensure social distancing in schools, the West Bengal Government has decided to hold classes in a spaced manner. The decision comes a week after educational institutions reopened in the State following a prolonged closure — of almost two years — forced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students of Classes 10 and 12, and students of Classes 9 and 11, have been asked to come on alternate days, according to a new order issued by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education on Sunday evening.
“On the basis of feedback received and in consultation with the stakeholders… the academic classes for Classes 10 and 12 may be held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Academic classes for Classes 9 and 11 may be held on Tuesday and Thursday. Academic study matters on alternate non-schooling days shall be looked after by the school management,” the order said.
“Academic classes for Classes 9 to 12 may be held from 10.50 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. as per [the new schedule] in all districts except in the hill subdivisions of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts. Classes in the schools of these districts will be held from 9.30 a.m. to 3 p.m.. On every Saturday, there will be no academic classes for students. Feedback sessions, awareness generation and orientation of guardians will be organised every Saturday,” it said.
Teachers across the State have largely welcomed the decision. “The schedule was perhaps proving too long for students. After a gap of almost one year and nine months of schools having been closed, they had got used to staying at home. The sudden change in schedule was perhaps too overwhelming for them. Wearing masks for six hours at a stretch daily was also a problem. Guardians often feared that long hours meant more exposure to the dreaded virus and were reluctant to send their wards to school for such extended periods,” said Krishnakoli Ray, headmistress of Dhakuria Sree Ramakrishna Vidyapith for Girls in Kolkata.
“Classes on alternate days and curtailed timings would perhaps assure them of more safety and hopefully encourage students to get back to school in more numbers. A softer, more spaced out and graded approach will be more feasible for both the students and the schools as well,” Ms. Ray said.