Muscat – Indian School Muscat (ISM) has suspended physical classroom instructions for Grades 9 to 12 starting Sunday until further notice. With this announcement, ISM is now conducting all classes online.
“For a week from January 9, ISM will conduct all classes online as a precautionary measure. The School Management Committee will assess the situation and decide if all classes will continue online,” said Dr Sivakumar Manickam, chairman of the Board of Directors, Indian Schools in Oman.
“Each school’s Management Committee can decide on running either online or physical classes depending on the number of students and infrastructure they have in place. Some schools in the capital and interiors are running fine with physical classes. But considering the student strength of ISM, the committee decided to close physical classes for all grades,” Dr Sivakumar explained.
Many parents of Grade 8 woke up on Wednesday to the news of suspension of physical classes until further notice. Class teachers forwarded a message from the school principal that said, “Considering the present scenario of increase in COVID-19 cases and based on the concerns received from parents, it has been decided to have only online classes for Grade 8 with immediate effect from Wednesday, January 5, 2022, until further intimation.”
According to Sivakumar, suspension of physical classes for Grade 8 was “purely for precaution only.”
“Children of Grade 8 and below are quite young, and although teachers take all the precautions, why take the risk? That is why we decided to go back to the online format.”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a parent of a Grade 8 student said, “This is not good. Both my daughter and I prefer physical classes. My daughter is fully vaccinated. There is no reason for us to continue online classes. If the Supreme Committee or Ministry of Education decide to close schools, we’d be fine with that.”
A common complain of several parents of Grade 8 students was the expenditure incurred in preparations – including uniforms – of sending their children back to school after almost two years. “In effect, all the expenses were for just a single day at school,” a parent said.
Another parent with two children in Grade 12, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, was happy with the decision. “Due to the online mode, the periodic tests are postponed. I was worried how they would cover the test portion considering school just opened after winter vacation.”
She said physical classes are more effective than online instructions, but if the school decides on online instructions, she supported the decision.
“We have 21 Indian schools in Oman. We closely monitor and audit the situation and follow the School Management Committees’ recommendations. When safety is a concern, we take extra precautions and that should not be compromised. There will always be someone who will voice their support or disagreement for both offline and online classes. But we will do what is good for everybody because safety is our first priority,” Sivakumar informed.
(Photo and text by Syed Fasiuddin)