Following the Telangana High Court's interim orders on reopening of schools in the state from Wednesday, parents of students studying in schools other than residential schools will adopt a wait and watch approach before taking a decision on sending them for offline classes.
With the court leaving it to school managements to have either only offline or online or both online and offline classes, students and parents will have to wait for some time to get some clarity.
Parents, who are reluctant to send their children to schools for offline classes, were relieved as the court made it clear that students should not be compelled to attend physical classes. They, however, are in a dilemma as it has been left to the school management to decide on whether to conduct only offline classes.
As school managements are free to make a decision, a section of the parents fears that they may do away with online classes to indirectly compel students to attend physical classes.
Many parents are of the view that conducting both offline and online classes is the best option in the present situation. "If somebody wants to send his children to schools, let them send but for those students not willing to attend physical classes, the school should continue online classes," said B. Manoj Reddy, a businessman whose son is a Class 7 student in a private school.
Some people want the school management to go by the opinion of the majority of parents. "If majority is not willing to send their wards to school, the management should conduct only online classes. This will also help the schools in managing their resources effectively," said R. Somayajulu, a private employee, whose two daughters go to a high school.
When the schools had re-opened briefly during February-March, the attendance in offline classes was thin. Though many schools had stopped conducting online classes, this could not compel parents to send their wards.
The same situation is likely when the schools reopen for physical classes on Wednesday as the majority of parents fear that their children might contract Covid-19 at schools. Even those who were thinking of sending their wards for offline classes changed their mind after schools wanted them to sign a declaration that the school management will not be responsible if the children get infected while in school.
After the high court's order on Tuesday, the Education Department issued a memo, clarifying at any such declaration will not be valid. "Any undertaking obtained from parents by any school management absolving the school management of any liability if the child gets infected with a virus, while in school, shall not have any legal effect," reads the memo issued by state Education Secretary Sandeep Kumar Sultania.
As per the orders of the high court, the Director, School Education has been directed to lay down the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be followed by all school managements conducting classes offline within one week and give them wide publicity in print and electronic media.
In view of this, the school managements are also likely to delay their decision on conducting only offline or only online classes by a week. Managements of few private schools said that they will take a final decision, depending on the attendance in offline classes and after some clarity on SOPs.
The government made it clear that all schools other than government residential schools, social welfare schools, and tribal welfare schools with hostel facilities are permitted to open from September 1. No child shall be compelled by any school management to physically attend offline classes if his or her parent is not inclined to send the child to school, reads the memo.
The clarifications came after the high court orders on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), challenging the government's move to reopen all educational institutions.