Times Of India Editorials : Odd-even for schools

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Technology and classroom learning have to go hand-in-hand in the post-lockdown phase

With the post-lockdown phase in mind, an odd-even plan is being considered for schools by the National Council of Educational Research. This would entail having only 50% of students on campus on any given day. Alternatively, there could also be a weekly rotation of students to ensure physical distancing and the appropriate teacher-student ratio. Thus, classrooms and pedagogy (the method and practice of teaching, especially as an academic subject or theoretical concept) have to be redefined to deal with the new normal.

This is welcome as it is clear that we will be living with Covid-19 for some time in the foreseeable future. We have to adapt our everyday lives to manage the spread of the disease and yet continue with the normal functioning of society. Hitherto, students have been stuck at home due to the lockdown and have had to rely on online classes for their learning. However, it has become increasingly clear that the digital infrastructure required for this is unequal across students and schools. Besides, everything can’t be learnt from home. In-person interactions between teachers and students, and among students themselves, are vital for comprehension, developing soft skills and inculcating (implant) social maturity.

Plus, available data shows children are comparatively much less vulnerable to Covid-19 than adults. A review of 67 studies from across the world by a network of child health experts who pore over evidence to aid clinicians has found that from Wuhan in China to the US and Europe, children are far less likely than adults to suffer gravely from Covid-19. Therefore, resuming classes through an odd-even rotation of the students, along with appropriate safety measures such as wearing masks, using hand sanitisers and temperature monitoring systems, should be acceptable.

Besides, it is time to get rid of the excessive anxiety (concern) surrounding the coronavirus. The fatality rate of Covid-19 in India is still relatively low. Thus, taking adequate precautions should be enough. The new normal shouldn’t mean we can’t step out of our houses. It just means modifying our lifestyles and cutting down on unnecessary exposure (subjection). So the new schooling system will have to incorporate both — part classroom education and part online learning. Adopting a logical middle path in the post-lockdown phase is the key.

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