Schools in Delhi reopen amid strict COVID-19 safety guidelines
Wearing masks and carrying umbrellas as heavy rains lashed Delhi, students of classes 9-12 returned to schools after they reopened on Wednesday following a long hiatus due to COVID-19.
Some institutions, however, chose to adopt a wait-and-watch approach and have decided to call children for physical classroom studies only after a few weeks. Following a marked improvement in the Covid situation in the national capital, the Delhi government on Friday had announced that schools for classes 9 to 12, colleges and coaching institutions would reopen from September 1.
It had clarified that no student would be forced to attend physical classes and the consent of parents would be mandatory. “I am excited on meeting my friends,” a Delhi government school student from east Delhi said, adding that with COVID-19 still around, everybody has to take precautions.
“This is the new normal and we will have to adjust,” the student said.
Though it has allowed institutions to open, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has notified several safety guidelines. Allowing only 50 per cent students per classroom, mandatory thermal screening, staggered lunch breaks, alternate seating arrangement and avoiding routine guest visits are among the guidelines announced by the DDMA for reopening of schools.
The DDMA has said students, teachers and non-teaching staff living in Covid containment zones will not be allowed to come to schools and colleges.
“Physical classes are better than online classes. There is of course a fear of the virus but I hope that we can follow the appropriate norms and keep the virus at bay,” a government school student from Dwarka said. Mount Carmel School in Dwarka does not plan to reopen for at least a month as its entire staff is not completely vaccinated, and has decided to continue with online learning.
“We are not prepared to open our school right now. They haven’t started vaccinating children and all my staff is not vaccinated. We are still in the middle of a pandemic. We are not going to take a chance,” Dean, Mount Carmel School, Michael Williams, said.
“It is being said that Zydus-Cadila has launched its vaccine for 12 to 18 year olds. I think it is much smarter to wait for another two months. We have waited for long and we can wait some more,” he added. Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, reopened on Wednesday, but it is not providing buses for students as a precaution against COVID-19.
While the government has noted that vaccination centres and activities like ration distribution which were going on in different schools will continue, the DDMA said the area being used for these activities should be separated from the area which will be used for academic activities.
(Cover: A worker sanitizes the premises of a school after the Delhi government eased down Covid-19 restrictions and allowed schools to reopen from tomorrow at Mount Abu School, Rohini, on August 31, 2021 in New Delhi, India // Photo by Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)