During the first lockdown, the then AIADMK government has issued guidelines for conducting online classes following complaints that private schools were engaging students in excessive virtual classes to complete syllabus portions. A few of the rules imposed included restricting timings of online sessions per day and the total number of classes besides fixing time duration. However, there was no mechanism to monitor the classes by authorities.
With the private school teacher’s gross misconduct coming to light and a widespread public outcry to punish the culprit, School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi on Tuesday asserted that the existing online guidelines will be reviewed and institutions would have to strictly follow them. “No one expected this (sexual harassment) to happen. This is a lesson for us. Further restrictions would be brought in for the online sessions,” he said.
A senior official from the School Education Department told DT Next that the new rules for online classes will not only ensure time restrictions but also ensure that all virtual proceedings are recorded.
Stating that at present, online classes were confined to interactions between a teacher and students only, the official said, “Now apart from the teachers and students, schools will also ensure including one neutral person in the virtual session to monitor the class.”
Pointing out that the neutral person would record the classes and upload them in the main database of the school, he said the management of schools should maintain date-wise data on any electronic storage device, where it could be downloaded at a moment’s notice. The official also said that the government was interested in setting up a separate and exclusive grievance cell for school children, which would work round the clock. “The government plans that all existing sexual harassment committee in schools compulsorily have more female teachers as members,” he added.