Their proximity to Kerala, which is seeing a high number of cases, is among the reasons for the delay
In Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada, two districts where the positivity rate is over and around 2%, and schools have not reopened, teachers are interacting with students in smaller groups, providing lesson plans and giving them worksheets to ensure that their learning is not hampered this academic year.
V. Anbukumar, Commissioner for Public Instruction, said that teachers in the two districts were instructed to continue with online classes. He added that they were allowed to call students in groups (not more than five students) to school and give them advice or clarify their doubts.
However, he added that the department was hoping that the COVID-19 situation would improve and schools would reopen soon. “We cannot start classes as we will have to comply with all the recommendations of the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee,” he said, adding that the department was not thinking of starting any special measures in these districts as this was a ‘temporary situation’.
In Dakshina Kannada, a key reason for delay is because many students from Kasaragod district in Kerala, which has a high test positivity rate, attend schools here. The test positivity rate in Dakshina Kannada is hovering around 2%.
However, parents are worried. Rajesh Shrivana, the parent of a Class 6 student in Mangaluru, said that if offline classes are not resumed soon, students will definitely lag behind academically. Online classes do not offer face-to-face interaction and communication is not effective. Students do not show seriousness in studies and one of the parents will have to be with the students regularly when classes are online, he said.
National award-winning high teacher Yakub Koyyur said that the learning ability of students has dropped as they have lost exposure to regular offline classes for over one-and-half years. There is a lack of interest in studies and many are addicted to mobile phones. The knowledge levels have also come down. It will be difficult for teachers to prepare Class 10 students for examinations, he said.
In Kodagu, the wait for the reopening of schools has been getting longer for the children who are out of schools since last year. Until Kodagu’s positivity rate falls below 2%, schools are unlikely to reopen and the authorities have made all preparations for their reopening in hope of a continuous drop in new virus cases in the district. In Kodagu, there are about 37,000 children studying from Classes 6 to 10.
Nipah scare too
In Kodagu’s case too, proximity to Kerala is among the reasons for delay, with the threat of Nipah virus now adding to the worry.
Kodagu DDPI Sridharan said, “Learning through WhatsApp is on and teachers are willing to go the extra mile to help students facing Internet problems, visiting their houses for distributing worksheets and clearing their doubts.”
So far, 97% of admissions in Kodagu schools are done and the children are awaiting the start of physical classes as the hurdles in Internet connectivity have bothered them most, unlike children in other districts.