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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

Bad air: Classes can’t be suspended again, says govt

cities Updated: Nov 12, 2019 22:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

New Delhi: Although the air quality in the national capital has plunged to ’severe’ levels once again on Tuesday, the Delhi government is yet to issue any advisory to schools about the suspension of classes. In the absence of any directions from the government, schools have, on their own, intensified precautionary measures such restricting outdoor activities of students and distributing anti-pollution masks.

Director of the directorate of education (DoE) Binay Bhushan Tuesday said the government will not be able to order the suspension of classes again. “It will not be possible for schools to suspend classes again as they are yet to complete their syllabus. This is a very crucial time for classes 10 and 12. We have already restricted all outdoor activities for students. Mostly schools have received masks for students. All precautionary measures are in place,” he said.

The government had earlier directed schools to remain shut for four days from November 2 to November 5 when the air quality had touched its worst levels since November 2016.

The DoE had earlier advised all schools to suspend morning assemblies and outdoor activities. The Delhi government had also begun the distribution of 50 lakh anti-pollution N95 masks to students in government and private schools from November 1.

On Tuesday, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) was 425 or severe, on a scale of 500. With schools continuing to function, many of them coping the best they can, and some more than the others.

Ritu Sawhney, principal of Sarvodya Kanya Vidyalaya (SKV) in Ramesh Nagar, said her school has placed anti-pollution plants such as areca and palm in the corridors. “We have restricted outdoor activities of students and started sprinkling water in playgrounds on a daily basis to settle the dust,” she said.

At Springdales School in Dhaula Kuan, canteen stalls and sports coaching sessions have been shifted indoors. Sanskriti School in Chanakyapuri has installed air quality monitoring systems to check pollution levels in real-time.

But experts say these are not enough. Dr JS Bhasin, senior paediatrician, BLK Hospital, said, “Mornings are the worse time for children to be outdoors as pollution peaks around that time. Children’s airways are developing and are narrower, so they are more prone to harm from heavy pollutants. Apart from throat and lungs, the pollution also affects also their eyes and skin.”

HT had earlier reported that very few schools in the city have installed air purifiers on their campuses. For instance, the three campuses of Shri Ram School have one purifier in each class. Chanakyapuri’s British School also has air purifiers installed in its buildings.