Officials said these may create mental stress in students and may lead to conflict within families or community. The department has urged teachers to instead focus on the well-being of students and support them emotionally.
‘There should be no hint of compulsion even in their tone’ said the order. The schools have also been asked to appoint a counsellor to monitor these classes. Teachers have been directed to inculcate healthy practices among children such as physical exercises and good nutrition, and have regular discussions with children and their families about online learning and related issues.
Students, parents and teachers have welcomed the order.
Jemima Eunice D, principal, Chennai middle school, Kathivakkam, Ennore, said that she witnessed a drastic drop in attendance after classes went online.
“Hardly three out of 32 students attend these classes as others couldn’t afford access to them,” she said. “Most of the students in our school come from underprivileged families, and we were worried about their education. We are glad that authorities have taken note of this,” she said.
T Sumithra, parent of a Class X student, was relieved after hearing about the order. “Classes go on for at least five hours, and there are too many assignments and deadlines. There is no physical activity or chance to meet friends. All this has affected our children badly. My son was always stressed,” she said.
S Arumainathan, president, Tamil Nadu Students’ Parents’ Welfare Association, said the online mode was commercialising education other than imparting learning.
“Several families had lost their jobs but were forced to pay more to schools, fearing their wards would lose out on education. This has exposed the inequalities in our society. There should be no online learning at all until schools reopen,” he said.