Update: Karnataka bans online classes till class 5. Click here for details.
The Department of Education and the Department of Public Instruction in Karnataka are yet to take a decision on whether it will cancel or continue virtual classes for school students in the state.
Commissioner of Public Instruction KG Jagadeesh said on Wednesday moening, "Department has not taken any decision on online classes yet. There are few complaints we received from parents. We are in the process consultation and we may come out with certain guidelines soon."
A WhatsApp forward message which was widely shared had claimed that the online classes were cancelled for those studying from classes 1 to 5.
"The government has decided to cancel online education for grades 1 to 5 amidst strong objections from the public sector, education experts and parents. Experts worried that educating young children online could have a serious impact on health.. Accordingly, the government will cancel the online education of children from level one to grade 5, including government, private, subsidized and unaided schools," read the forwarded message.
However, officials of the Karnataka education department including Education Minister S Suresh Kumar met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the issue of holding online classes for primary school students in the state. The officials had also sought the opinion of mental health professionals at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) regarding the issue
Speaking to TNM, Dr. BN Gangadhar told TNM that NIMHANS had recommended that virtual classes should not be held for students up to 3rd standard.
"This is based on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) recommendation that those under 6 years of age should not have more than one hour of screen time. We also feel that lessons for those under this age is not too complex and it can be managed by family members teaching the kids. The teachers of nursery and playschool have also not received any training on how to teach children online," Dr. BN Gangadhar told TNM.
He said that online classes should be explored for students studying in higher classes.
No guidelines have been issued for holding online classes in Karnataka although it has been more than a week since the academic year started and online classes were rolled out for private schools in the state. Meetings held last week over the issue proved to be inconclusive but students and parents are hopeful that the government issues guidelines for schools to clear up the confusion over online classes.