Published: 30th July 2021
TN govt directs health department to provide counselling before reopening colleges
The counselling is mainly directed at students and parents who were affected by the pandemic and those whose close relatives have died due to the disease in the first and second waves
While academics, teachers and parents have strongly opposed the reopening of schools for classes IX to XII in Tamil Nadu, there is a general consensus among the academics and teachers that classes in colleges for students who have undertaken vaccination be opened.
However, Chief Minister MK Stalin has directed the state health department to provide counselling to parents and students before the reopening of colleges. The counselling is mainly directed at students and parents who were affected by the pandemic and those whose close relatives have died due to the disease in the first and second waves. The modus operandi regarding the counselling has not yet been worked out but following the suggestion by Stalin, state health minister, Ma Subramanian has already directed the department to bring out a blueprint of the counselling process to be adopted.
The state health department has already put on alert several counsellors registered and empanelled with the state health department and is also expected to garner the support of counsellors in the private sector. Biju R Thomas, professor in a leading Government Arts and Science college in Salem said, "It is high time, colleges are reopened. But the education department and the state health department must take proper preventive measures before doing this. There are several students and their parents who are still under fear psychosis following the death of a close relative due to the pandemic and such parents would not allow their wards to colleges. They have to be given proper counseling and assurance by the state health department, who is learned to be preparing for this massive exercise."
Several academics are of the opinion that online education is taking its toll on the students and most of the rural populace in Tamil Nadu is not getting connected to the online education due to lack of gadgets, poor net connectivity, or not being able to take connection due to financial constraints as jobs are hard-pressed after the pandemic. More than this online education, according to several teachers and academics are not giving the much-required results among the students and a large percentage of the student community are not able to understand what is being taught through online mode. Balasubramanian, Professor of Sociology in Madurai Arts college, said, "The effort of teachers taking classes online as well as students learning in that mode is not getting the desired results. Classes have to be live and if other sectors can be opened, why not colleges. While there are apprehensions among both parents and students, proper counselling will help students come for the classes."
Teachers and academics are also pushing for the shift and alternate classes mode for students to reduce the number of students in the college at a time by half thus maintaining social distancing. Subramanian also said, "There will be a joint effort on the part of the concerned ministries and with the direction of the Chief Minister, we will decide on the reopening of colleges after counselling parents and students who were affected by the pandemic."