Schools in Lucknow & other UP districts insist on reopening, threaten to stop online classes

Schools in Lucknow & other UP districts insist on reopening, threaten to stop online classes

Schools under UPSA threaten to suspend all online classes after February 6.

As students inch closer to another academic year-end in lockdown, about 250 educational institutions under the Unaided Private School Association (USPA) have insisted on reopening physical classes for all. As per reports, the UPSA has stated that it will wait until February 6 for the official order. If the state does not relents, all online sessions will be discontinued. Schools have also threatened the administration no-confidence during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election process if a directive ordaining resumption of schools is not passed soon.

Offline Schools vs COVID pandemic

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UP schools have taken a strong stance against the online classes, arguing that if public places like parks, markets, railway stations and even malls are open, why is the state not favouring the same for schools. While a shutdown was imposed across, including schools, with the rise of Omicron threat in the state, all other establishments, eateries have been allowed to reopen. Schools, on the other hand, have faced extended closure, first from January 16 to 23 and later, till February 6.

"The government is calling students for various programmes where Covid-19 safety protocol are being ignored then why it is not allowing schools to conduct classes on the campus," asked UPSA president Anil Agarwal. Anyway, the standard of education has faced a big blow with online sessions and then the government's interference in the functioning and management of schools further degraded the quality, Agarwal said.

Why is opening schools important?

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Be it fee hike, use of school vehicles in elections, or delay in fee reimbursement to schools for admissions under the Right to Education, the government has taken excessive control, without authority. "The government's directive to schools to not to increase the fee will not be accepted. We will increase the fee according to the UP Fee Regulation Act," he added.

Agarwal, who is managing director of the St Joseph Group of Institutions, said. "A large number of private schools in Uttar Pradesh have no option but to shut down their schools if the state government does not allow them to increase fees and reopen completely from February 7"

Agarwal said schools had to suffer huge financial losses due to pandemic, as a number of students had left schools. "There was no salary revision of our teachers and staff because schools were not allowed to increase fees. This is affecting their performance. In these trying times, a few member schools will be forced to shut down if the government does not let them increase fees for the third successive year."

President of City Montessori School, Gita Gandhi Kingdon also said, "There has been no increase in fees for three years. And it is difficult to deny increment to teachers and staff who have been working in the pandemic."

What is the parent's take?

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"City malls are open, restaurants are open so why not schools? Schools follow discipline. It is anyway easiest to impose any norm within the campus. My daughter is in 11th standard and she is sometimes called to the school. She just makes sure to follow all protocols well. Kids are smart, if you tell them that's it is essential they will understand and comply", says parent Neha Sonal.

Another parent, Dhan Hemlani, seconded this thought and said, "Children these days go out to hang out with friends or at the mall. How is keeping schools closed is the answer to keep them COVID safe. Classroom education is important, be it for in the foundation building primary years or the senior classes. Schools must be reopened with strict norms in place." Students too have agreed that they can follow COVID protocols, the same way they do outside schools.

- with Agency inputs

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