The Delhi government, however, clarified that no student will be forced to attend classes and there will be no compulsory attendance.
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While the majority of schools have welcomed the move, parents are still divided on the issue amid concerns of a possible third wave of Covid-19.
A decision regarding the reopening of educational institutions was taken on Friday at a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). A panel set up by the DDMA had earlier this week submitted its report recommending phase-wise reopening of schools in the national capital.
The decision was taken in view of a marked improvement in the Covid-19 situation in Delhi, following a recent brutal second wave of the infection which claimed many lives, with the shortage of oxygen at hospitals across the city adding to the woes.
“In view of decreasing Covid cases, schools are being slowly reopened in Delhi with complete precautions, so that the learning loss for students can be reduced. We have to bring back life on track and take care of studies as well as the health of students,” Kejriwal tweeted.
Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said teaching and learning activities will continue to be conducted in a blended mode.
“No child will be forced to attend physical classes and there will be no compulsory attendance. Consent of the parents will be a must for students to attend physical classes. All academic activities in school will be conducted in a blended manner,” he told a press conference.
Sisodia, who is also the Education Minister of Delhi, noted that experts have agreed that online education cannot replace classroom education.
“There has been a massive loss of learning in the last 1.5 years. It is a matter of fact that online education cannot replace physical education, and our children have missed out on years of proper learning. Experts agree that online education cannot replace education that is attained in a classroom with a conducive environment.
“Hence, the Delhi government has taken the decision to reopen all schools, colleges, coaching activities in a slow, safe and secure manner. Schools especially should reopen in a graded manner. Public and private schools will reopen for children from classes 9-12 in the first phase. Similarly, coaching centres for this age group or higher along with colleges and universities will also be reopened,” he said.
While Sisodia said there is no final decision regarding junior classes and a call will be taken after analysing the effect of reopening schools for senior classes, sources indicated that schools for classes 6 to 8 may reopen from September 8.
“In the last one month, we have instituted several drives all over Delhi to vaccinate teachers. 98 per cent of Delhi government school teachers and all school staff have received their first dose and we are administering the second dose as well.
“Private schools have also reported that a high number of staff have been vaccinated. We are ensuring that all staff get fully vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said responding to a question about the vaccination status,” he said.
Asked about concerns raised by parents about a possible third wave in October-November, Sisodia said, “When we had asked for suggestions and comments regarding school reopening from parents, students and teachers, at least 70 per cent of people wanted schools and colleges to reopen. The rest of them also believed that schools should reopen in a staggered manner. Only a handful of people did not want physical classes.”
Schools in the national capital were ordered shut last year in March ahead of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. While several states started partial reopening of schools from October last year, the Delhi government allowed reopening in January only for classes 9 to 12.
However, schools were again completely shut in April following an aggressive second wave of Covid-19.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) had also left the decision about reopening of colleges and varsities with respective state governments depending upon the Covid-19 situation.
The Directorate of Education (DoE) will soon notify the detailed SOPs for the reopening of schools.
Separate entry and exit to avoid crowding, calling 50 per cent students of classroom seating capacity, increased facility for cleaning and sanitisation, availability of quarantine room and random collection of samples of students and staff on regular basis are among the SOPs recommended by a panel set up by the DDMA. The panel had submitted its report earlier this week.