Complying with the Union Human Resources Development Ministry guidelines, the Karnataka primary and secondary education department has reversed its June 15 order and allowed the schools across the state to resume online classes for students studying from 1-10 standard.
The new order allows all schools affiliated to the state board, CBSE and ICSE boards to conduct online classes in compliance with the state’s guidelines. It will be valid for students studying up to Class V till the state expert committee submits a report on whether to go ahead with the online classes.
Earlier on the recommendation of academic and health experts, state education minister, S. Suresh Kumar on June 10 had said that online classes would not be allowed in the state for primary school kids.
Dr Puja Grover, paediatric neurologist at Continua Kids remarked that sticking long to the screen reduces the blinking capacity thereby leading to irritation in the eyes, dryness, headaches and refractive errors to children.
For classes 1-5 there will be two sessions of 30-45 minutes on alternate days whereas for classes 6-8, two sessions a day, each exceeding not beyond 45 minutes for five days in a week. Classes 9-10 will have four sessions for five days in a week, each within 30-45 minutes of range.
The schools have also been directed not to collect additional fee for online classes.
Shweta Sastri, Managing Director, Canadian International School said that issuing a blanket ban on online classes is not only unconstitutional but also without regard for a student's fundamental right to learn.
“Now, the State Government has recognised that they cannot ban online classes, instead they will issue guidelines for schools. While this is alright for schools regulated by the State, it will not work for central board or international schools as we have our boards to answer to. State government needs to stop being an impediment here, instead it should enable online learning as schools around the world have embraced online classes as a valid and necessary component of learning especially until kids can physically go back to school.”
The Karnataka High Court on June 26 has asked the state government to consider online classes only for certain hours. The observation by the court was made during a Public Interest Litigation hearing filed by Anumitha Sharma and several others, challenging the ban on online classes for students between LKG and Class 5.
The court asked the state government if regular classes cannot be conducted, would it mean denying the children right to education in view of Article 21-A of the Constitution. “Can’t the online classes be permitted for a few hours? Some solution has to be found out. Online is limited to cities, what about rural areas?” the bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Nataraj Rangaswamy asked.