RAIPUR: The Chhattisgarh government has said schools in the state will continue to remain closed till further orders in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, a move welcomed by many parents.
As per the Centre's guidelines, state governments can take decision about reopening of schools after October 15.
However, the Chhattisgarh cabinet on Thursday decided that in view of the pandemic situation in the state, schools will continue to remain shut.
Hailing the move, Chhattisgarh Parents' Association (CPA), a state-level body, has demanded that the central and state governments declare this academic session as "zero year" for students till Class 8 and promote them to the next class.
"Safety of children is the priority of every parent and sending them to school in the present peak situation of the virus outbreak will put their life at risk," CPA president Kristopher Paul told PTI.
"The government should declare the 2020-21 academic session as zero year for classes from nursery till 8 and promote the students to the next class," said Paul, whose son is in Class 6 in a private school in Rajnandgaon town.
He said students of classes 9 to 12 should be given assignments and projects for their final evaluation, but schools should also not be opened for them till the COVID-19 situation is under control.
Echoing similar views, Pradip Dongre, a sub-engineer with the irrigation department in Dantewada, said the current situation is not conducive for physical classes.
"Why would parents like to allow their children to go out and expose themselves to the virus? It would be difficult for a school to identify which child's family members are infected by COVID-19," he said.
Dongre said his son and daughter, who are in Class 8 and 12, respectively, are comfortable with online classes.
Till Saturday, the state reported 1,40,258 COVID-19 cases and of these, over 80,000 cases were detected in the last one month.
Though parents remain concerned, students of senior classes are disappointed with prolonged closure of schools as they are finding it difficult to understand topics clearly online due to internet connectivity issues.
Shatabdi Rai, a Class 11 student of Career Public School in Korba, said online classes have changed the style of learning.
"It is hard to understand topics clearly and get our doubts resolved online. Poor network is also an issue. Online classes cannot match normal classroom learning," she said.
Annu Dubey, a Class 12 student of Maitri Vidya Niketan school at Bhilai (Durg district), said she not only misses seeing her friends, but also school sports.
"I miss my friends and being in school as it is my last year of school education. We are becoming used to virtual classes, but they are not good as they create confusion a lot of times. Everyone starts asking questions together or sometimes internet connectivity gets disrupted," she said.
In the wake of the pandemic, many government and private schools in the state have undertaken online classes to continue with the academic session.
The state government's online academic portal, called 'Padhai Tuhar Duar', (learning at your doorstep), has proved beneficial for students and is being appreciated across the country, a government statement said on Friday.
The portal was launched in the early stage of the nationwide lockdown to provide hassle-free and non-stop learning to children, it said.
Till now, 39.57 lakh online classes have been successfully conducted by 1.43 lakh teachers, imparting education to 3.77 lakh children via smartphones, it said.
Offline classes are also being conducted under the Padhai Tuhar Para (learning at your locality) initiative in remote and forested regions, which lack internet connectivity.
As part of the initiative, 23,643 teachers are helping over 7.48 students via 35,982 centres, the release said.
The offline classes are being conducted mostly in villages in collaboration with locals, it added.