Schools in Phuentsholing will go for “the blended learning”— a mix of online and contact teaching. This means the learning environment will fully depend on the Covid-19 situation, according to officials.

There are six schools including two private schools in Phuentsholing with around 4,300 students.

If there is a lockdown, Class 12 students will continue classes in containment mode, while the rest will learn online. After the lockdown is lifted and everything returns to normal, contact teaching will resume.

Phuentsholing Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said it was the right decision to take. 

“Thromde and school management will keep everything ready and students, teachers and parents should be ready,” he said, adding that studies shouldn’t be hampered.

The thrompon said the good thing this time was that the teachers are experienced in conducting online classes.

Although containment mode teaching would be first applied for Class XII, it could eventually be extended to Class X students. However, the school infrastructure and designs are not favourable for self-containment mode, the thrompon said.

All schools have been conducting online classes after Phuentsholing thromde was placed under third lockdown on April 16.

Despite the huge risks of transmission, prior to the lockdown, schools in Phuentsholing were open with Covid-19 protocols. Although the first case that led to the lockdown was a 10-year-old boy student, the outbreak was quickly controlled without further transmissions to other students.

Thrompon Uttar Kumar Rai said anything can happen in Phuentsholing given the fact the town is the essential supply centre for all dzongkhags. 

“Therefore, Phuentsholing needs to be prioritised,” he said, adding that students from low-income families required support.

“We’ll have to work closely with the concerned agencies,” he said.

Thromde education officer Norbu Gyeltshen said blended teaching is one of the components of New Normal Curriculum.

A parent, Phub Tshering said schools should open only after the mid-term break. 

“And if the ministry has decided to open up, my suggestion would be to open in shifts,” he said. “We cannot lose another year without learning.”

In case of online learning, he said currently there were children who haven’t submitted a single assignment. He said a proper survey is needed to see how many students are equipped for online classes. 

“Will the parents be able to afford internet connectivity?”

Prior to this year’s academic session, the education ministry had planned to shift students from Classes VII to XII (including teachers) out of Phuentsholing. However, most parents and teachers expressed concerns and the decision was revoked.

By Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing

Edited by Tshering Palden