Published: 07th September 2020
Children can't be forced to attend online classes: TN school education commissioner
CEOs shall obtain the acknowledgement of the receipt of the guidelines for online education from each school, in addition to the class time table and compliance report
In a big relief to several students who are struggling to access their online lessons due to a plethora of reasons ranging from poverty to connectivity, the Commissioner of School Education in Tamil Nadu has instructed all Chief Educational Officers to make sure that no child is compelled to attend the online classes. Also, the attendance in online classes "shall not be counted" while evaluating the performance of a student.
A letter issued by the Commissioner of School Education, Sigy Thomas Vaidhyan, to all Chief Educational Officers (CEOs) in the state on Saturday, directed that "no teacher shall compel students to attend online classes by using terms like 'shall', 'should', 'must', 'compulsory', 'will be counted in attendance', 'grades/marks/evaluation are based on this', etc".
Teachers have also been directed to take responsibility and ensure that all students who have been absent from online sessions are suitably coached and brought on a par with other students, when the school reopens.
"All communications regarding online classes shall be communications of information only. All teachers, school staff and authorities may be sensitised that there shall be no hint of compulsion even in their tone of voice or in the mode of drafting or language of communications to students," the letter noted.
The letter also stated that while assessments and assignments can be done online, they cannot be made mandatory or counted towards final performance evaluation. Parents, guardians or others who lend their devices to children shall have complete freedom on whether to let their wards attend online classes, based on personal circumstances and safety perceptions.
Further, all schools have been instructed to appoint a teacher as counsellor for ensuring cyber safety and security of students and teachers. Their mobile numbers or email IDs shall be given to students and teachers before the online classes commence.
All teachers, especially the counsellors, must attend an online training on sustainable conduct of online classes, hosted on the Tamil Nadu Teachers' Platform. If the school management does not respond to a legitimate grievance, the same can be communicated to the counsellor or mailed to the State Parent Teacher Association via firstname.lastname@example.org. Students, parents, teachers and counsellors are encouraged to use the helpline number 14417 of the School Education Department to get counselling regarding any stress or tension.
CEOs shall obtain the acknowledgement of the receipt of the guidelines for online education from each school, in addition to the class time table and compliance report.