Twelve-year-old Arjun Roy, who enjoys going to school and being in the company of his friends, is terribly upset as the West Bengal government’s order asking all schools to remain closed due to heat wave has not only forced him to stay indoors but made him sit for nearly six hours every day for his classes online.

While on the one hand, students like Arjun have been expressing disappointment in attending online classes, schools on their part are worried that such regular breaks and shift to online classes will hamper their growth and development.

Realigning summer holidays, rescheduling school timings during peak weather conditions and exploring the possibility of reworking the session term are some of the options that senior education experts and school heads are discussing so as to ensure a more sustainable and long term solution to the issue.

West Bengal government had recently ordered all schools, colleges and educational institutions, including private institutions to remain closed for a week due to the heat wave. Following this, most schools in the city, mainly the private ones, have shifted to the online mode. This is not the first time the state government has instructed schools to remain closed. Last year, around the same time, it had ordered schools to remain closed when temperatures soared experiencing the heat wave.

According to Mukta Nain, Director of Birla High School, global warming is a reality and such adverse climatic conditions are here to stay. It would be better to teach children and train them to adapt to the situation rather than encouraging them to stay indoors.

“We have kept our schools closed as per the government directive and are conducting classes online. But we are thinking whether this is sustainable. Parents are paying the fees and we have to complete the syllabus. Global warming is a reality and we should start training our children,” Nain told businessline.

Going online may not really be a solution as one cannot equate online learning with the knowledge gained physically in school, said Supriyo Dhar, spokesperson for La Martiniere School. “We have to adapt to weather conditions….going online is not a solution,” he said.

Some of the senior teachers and educationists also felt that it would be better to close schools for summer vacation immediately after the final exams conclude and reopen directly in the first week of June like it is done in some of the other states. Currently, schools close for a term break post final exams in mid-March and reopen in early April and classes go on till mid-May before closing for summer vacations.

“There is a lot of break with schools closing down due to harsh weather conditions, may be it could be considered to have a long summer holidays and directly reopen in the first week of June when the temperature is slightly more bearable,” said a senior teacher at a private school.

However, since most of the schools are affiliated to various boards (ICSE, CBSE and West Bengal board) this decision has to be taken at their end, the teacher added.