TNS Explainer: Are schools in TN re-opening in June third week for Class 11 students?

It is an exam-free academic year in Tamil Nadu as the state government has cancelled the board exams from Classes 9 to 12 and declared the students from Classes 1 to 8 all pass in light of the horrendous second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government's announcement of cancelling the Class 12 board exams came recently after hectic discussions with the stakeholders over conducting the exams.

The state government's panel has been in the process of building a criterium on how the marks should be awarded for the Class 12 students to pursue their higher education. One of the main reasons to cancel the board exam is that the state is reeling ahead to witnessing the third wave of the pandemic, which would likely begin in August and has been predicted to affect the younger population. 

Amid having no sign of school re-opening, there has been a buzz on social media with some reports claiming that the schools for Class 11 students will be reopened in the third week of June. These uncertain reports have pushed the students and parents to a state of perplexion. However, it must be noted that there has been no such announcement from the government. Through this article, let's see what's the fact and what's the government has said. 

On Tuesday, the state education department has released a statement in which it has permitted the schools to conduct tests for allotting groups to students in Class 11 if they receive more applications than the seats available. The government has only allowed conducting the test if necessary and it hasn't permitted the schools to re-open and conduct physical classes for Class 11 students. 

Rather, the state education department has asked the schools to start online classes for Class 11 in the third week of June by following the COVID-19 guidelines. As virtual learning has become a new normal in the state for more than a year, the government has permitted online classes without re-opening the schools completely. It has been expected that the online classes for Class 11 students would commence after June 14. 

The government's move of allowing the schools to conduct entrance tests for Class 11 has come as the students didn't go through quarterly, half-yearly, and board exams while they were in Class 10. With the expectation that there would be more applications in schools, they are asked to conduct tests to allot the groups to students. The circular from School Education Commissioner K Nanthakumar to Chief Educational Officers said, "Whichever stream receives more applications, schools conduct a test based on questions taken from relevant subjects in lower classes."

"They should prepare 50 multiple-choice based questions and based on the marks, they can allot groups. If the school receives fewer applications than the available seats, it can allot the seats based on the interest of students", the circular added. The department has allowed the government and government-aided schools to increase 10% to 15% seats in each stream in Class 11 if the applications are more than the available seats. 

The circular has also asked the schools to start online classes and classes through Kalvi TV for Class 12 students. However, the department has nowhere permitted the schools to re-open for students in the third week of June as claimed by some reports. Meanwhile, in another circular, the school education department has directed the headmasters and staff members of the government and government-aided schools from primary to higher secondary to come to schools from June 14. 

They are asked to come to schools to carry out the works related to admission, issuance of certificates, providing study materials to students for online classes, reviewing the Kalki TV to provide online coaching, and cleaning and maintaining the rooms and premises. The headmasters and staff members are asked to adhere to the Standard Operating Procedures and follow the COVID-19 guidelines while in schools.