Delhi schools will reopen after a 19-month gap for all classes from November 1 with 50% capacity. With Covid-19 cases declining in Delhi, the city-state’s government has finally given the go-ahead for schools and colleges to resume offline classes.
Schools re-opened for classes 9 to 12 from September 1 after being closed for a prolonged period due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A panel constituted by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority recommended reopening schools for classes 6 to 8 with 50% capacity after noting that there had been no instances of increased local transmission after reopening of classes 9 to 12.
Guidelines for schools
As per the authority’s guidelines, principals and teachers will ensure that students attend schools with parental consent. Parents cannot be forced to send their wards to school, which will continue to function in hybrid mode. The schools will prepare timetables based on capacity of classrooms with at least an hour’s gap between the exit of the morning shift students and entry of the evening shift students.
Students will not be allowed to share lunch or books in schools. Students, teaching and non-teaching staff members residing in containment zones will be barred from entering the premises. The authority has also directed schools to maintain a ‘quarantine room’ in case a student or staff member displays Covid-19 symptoms.
Government schoolteachers who did not get vaccinated by October 15 will be considered to be on leave and not allowed to enter schools until they get their first dose.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had announced that schools would ensure complete vaccine coverage of staff members.
However, the decision to reopen schools has elicited mixed response from parents. While some parents believe it was imperative to reopen schools to prevent any further learning loss, others raised the issue of Covid-19 risk following the festival season and early-winter pollution.
The recent closure of a school in Karnataka after several students tested positive for the coronavirus has also alarmed some parents. Education department officials in Madikeri town of Kodagu district ordered the closure of a Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya after 33 students tested positive.
A recent World Bank report suggested that young children were less susceptible to Covid-19 and given how safely schools were reopened in several countries before a vaccine was developed, education systems did not need to wait for widespread vaccination before resuming offline schooling, PTI reported.
According to the World Bank’s Education team, experience from countries which reopened schools suggest that adequate mitigation strategies reduced the risk of an outbreak in schools.
World Bank statistics suggest 80% of schools are in regular session across the globe. Of those, 54% have resumed in-person learning, 34% have a hybrid model, while 10% are continuing with remote learning.
Clamour for DU to reopen colleges
With schools reopening for lower classes in Delhi, students of Delhi University trended #ReopenDU on social media. The development comes after Delhi University Vice-Chancellor Yogesh Singh said the varsity would decide on reopening colleges after Diwali. The students said they wanted to return to campuses and demanded in-person classes.
Registrar Vikas Gupta told PTI that they were waiting for the state government to issue a circular before taking a decision. The Delhi government is yet to issue any guidelines for the resumption of colleges.
The students pointed out that online classes didn’t have the same impact as offline classes, and asked why colleges couldn’t reopen if schools could.