Officials said this could cause psychological stress in students and lead to conflict within families or communities. The department has urged teachers to focus instead on the well-being of the students and support them emotionally.
“There shouldn’t be any hint of coercion in their tone either,” said the order. The schools were also asked to appoint an advisor to oversee these classes. Teachers were instructed to teach children healthy practices such as physical exercise and good nutrition, and to regularly discuss online learning and related topics with children and their families.
Students, parents and teachers welcomed the order.
Jemima Eunice D, headmistress of Chennai Middle School in Kathivakkam, Ennore, said she saw a drastic drop in attendance after classes went online.
“Hardly three out of 32 students attend these classes because others couldn’t afford them,” she said. “Most of the students in our school come from disadvantaged families and we were concerned about their education. We are glad the authorities took notice,” she said.
T Sumithra, the parent of an X student, was relieved upon hearing of the order. “Classes last at least five hours, and there are too many tasks and deadlines. There is no physical activity or opportunity to meet friends. All of this has hit our children hard. My son was always stressed,” she said.
S Arumainathan, president of the Tamil Nadu Students ‘Parents’ Welfare Association, said the online mode is commercializing other education than delivering learning.
“Several families had lost their jobs but had to pay more to schools because they feared their community would lose education. This has exposed the inequalities in our society. There should be no online learning at all until schools reopen “, he said.