Delhi principals express mixed opinions on practicals as schools close

Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Delhi government closed schools and offline examinations for all classes indefinitely on Friday.
School students with masks and in uniform
School students with masks and in uniform
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The school closure in Delhi over the COVID-19 case surge has left some principals concerned about class 10 and 12 practical exams which were underway, while some say it was wise to suspends offline academic activities given the pandemic situation.

Amid a spike in coronavirus cases over the past few weeks, the Delhi government Friday suspended physical academic activities and offline examinations for all classes indefinitely.

The move will definitely impact practical exams as well as the upcoming board exams which are just around the corner," said Alka Kapur", the principal of Modern School, Shalimar Bagh.

The circular on school closure does not mention the period for which this measure will remain in force, which means uncertainty continues to loom around, she said. "In many schools, the practical exams had already commenced and will now be interrupted abruptly."

"The principals of various schools have already expressed concerns over the postponement of the boards and that is understandable," she said.

"This time last year as well, we had to shut schools to contain the spread of the first wave and now it's a repetition to control the second wave. However, the window for holding practical exams remains open till June 11. So, if we cannot hold them now, we will hold them after the board exams," she added.

Rajat Goel, the Director of MRG School, Rohini, said, "The school closure announcement by the government and the spike in COVID cases are indicative of the alarming situation and come as a wise decision looking at the current scenario."

"It is high time the educators' community, the CBSE board and the Ministry of Education plan the upcoming board exams. Physical activities have been suspended in schools as safety of students and teachers is a priority, but for the higher classes, school authorities need specific SOPs, so as to manage the ongoing academic session, Goel added.

The AAP dispensation had last week announced that students of any class will not be called to school in the new academic session.

However, class 10 and class 12 students who have to appear in board exams in May-June were going to school with the consent of their parents for preparations as well as practical exams. Also, classes 9 and 11 students were being called to school for exams.

Jyoti Arora, the Principal of Mount Abu School, said, "Most private schools are done with half the practical exams and there is a window to complete the assessment for practical exams before June 11. In the current situation, it was not safe to call students to school despite all measures being taken.

"Safety of students is a priority at any cost. Academics can be managed as we have an able team of experienced teachers with us who have been upskilling themselves throughout the remote learning phase to make the discourse of knowledge in classes more extensive," said Sangeet Hajela, the Principal of DPS Indirapuram.

"Practicals for higher classes were permitted by the government as boards play a crucial role in a child's academic journey," she said.

Delhi recorded 8,521 fresh COVID-19 cases on Friday, the highest single-day surge since November 11 last year, while 39 more people died due to the infection, taking the death toll to 11,196, according to the city health department.

Students of class 10 and 12 have been demanding that the board exams scheduled in May-June be either cancelled or conducted in online mode.

However, both CBSE and CICSE have not taken any decision in this regard yet.

While CBSE officials said the board has increased the number of examination centres by 50 per cent to ensure social distancing, CICSE officials maintained the schedule will remain unchanged.

The CBSE had last week announced that if any student fails to appear for ongoing practical exams after the student or any family member testing positive, the schools will conduct re-tests for them at an appropriate time.

The officials, however, did not comment on whether the same relaxation will be given to students in theory exams as well.

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