With schools across Odisha set to resume physical classes for students of Class 10 and 12 from January 8, ahead of their Board examinations, the state government is now planning to provide counselling support to students.
Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash has also asked all district education officers to rope in teachers from schools which are not scheduled to reopen, as well as retired teachers to ensure the completion of the course within the stipulated 100 days. “The additional staff can aid in classes with inadequate staff strength. Otherwise it will be difficult to complete the course,” Dash said.
“Stress, anxiety, grief and worry during and after a disaster/pandemic are very natural. Therefore, the schools should be provided with contact details of the counsellors available in different departments of the district to take expert views as and when required. The teachers should also be oriented on the basis of psychological counselling,” Sadhyabati Pradhan, chairperson of the Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (OSCPCR), wrote in a recommendation letter to the state education department.
In a survey conducted by OSCPCR across the state’s 30 districts, 85 percent of the respondents (children) preferred their schools reopened.
The standard operating procedures finalised by the department also state, “It is possible that many students may be coming back after suffering traumatic incidents at home over the past few months. Teachers must keep an eye on the emotional well being of children and take supportive action when needed.”
According to an official, each school has a Covid-monitoring committee to look after the well-being of students and Junior Red Cross (JRC) counsellors have been trained to interact with students. “As soon as the schools reopen, JRC will interact with individual students to discuss the ongoing situation and provide counselling if needed,” the official said.