Karnataka: After anganwadis, pre-primaries also likely to reopen on November 8 | Bengaluru News – Times of India

BENGALURU: After the women and child welfare department announced that the 66,361 anganwadis in Karnataka under its jurisdiction will reopen on November 8, the department of public instruction is likely to follow suit with pre-schools. However, it is yet to issue an official circular.
On November 2, TOI had pressed authorities on the government’s silence over reopening pre-schools and which department should take a call on the matter. Following a meeting on Wednesday, education department officials admitted preschools fall under their jurisdiction.
Anganwadis will hold daily classes for two hours for children in the age groups of 3-6 years. The same rule would apply to pre-schools too, officials said.
“I spoke to the commissioner of public instruction and the principal secretary on Wednesday and it is 99% certain that we [pre-schools] will reopen on November 8,” said primary and secondary education minister BC Nagesh. “We will draw up standard operating procedures soon. We are unlikely to have an issue with social distancing in these grades.”
The minister said the intake in LKGs and UKGs in each Karnataka Public School is only 30. “Private schools also cannot accommodate more than 30 students because the method of teaching is different in these grades. In case there are more children, schools will have to operate in larger areas,” he said.
Considering that children below five years need not wear masks, the circular on anganwadis reopening had no instructions for mask usage among children. It will not be made mandatory for preschool students too. However, parents are likely to be asked to submit letters of consent to send their wards to school.
The move is a big relief for pre-primaries that have been shut since the pandemic struck. “It saves a lot of grief for working parents since they know their child will be safe with pre-schools and day cares. Children should not be exposed to digital content. Now, they will get to interact with their peers too,” said Pruthvi Banwasi, secretary, Karnataka Council of Preschools.
Many neighbourhood preschools had closed because they were unable to sustain themselves during the pandemic. “Around 1,500 of them moved their materials to godowns. Around 20% of them might never get back to business. But those really passionate about education will now have to hunt for new spaces and start rehiring teachers and ayahs. However, we will wait for a formal announcement for this,” Banwasi said.
The association fears attendance will be poor in big schools with nurseries. But small-time, standalone neighbourhood pre-schools will be at an advantage since they have no transportation issues. “For big schools, transportation is the biggest challenge,” he said.
It may be recalled that Karnataka Public Schools, which are run by primary and education departments, operate LKG and UKG classes. There are also pre-schools run by private institutions.
D Shashi Kumar, secretary, Association of Primary and Secondary Schools of Karnataka told TOI the association has asked the government to allow pre-primaries to function also as children are losing out. “Students may or may not come. But we have to do our bit, reopen schools, and create awareness among parents on sending children to school. We do not have more time to lose,” Kumar said.

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Sagar Biswas

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