Covid worries keep students away as Delhi schools reopen
Schools across the Capital witnessed low attendance as they reopened for in-person classes after two weeks on Monday.
The Delhi government had announced the closure of schools after the Supreme Court raised concerns about the Capital’s air pollution. Subsequently, the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region also directed the closure of education institutions in Delhi-NCR. Schools in Delhi were closed on November 13, barely two weeks after reopening for all students for the first time since March last year.
School administrators attributed the thin attendance to uncertainty surrounding the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant Omicron and logistical challenges, such as the absence of school buses.
Tania Joshi, principal of The Indian School, said that attendance was poor and several students who had given their consent for in-person classes did not come to school on Monday. The school resumed in-person classes for students in Class 6 onwards.
“The feedback has not been very good. If 15 students consent from one section, hardly two turn up. There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the new Covid-19 variant, and some parents are scared. They are a little apprehensive about sending children to school since they are not vaccinated,” said Joshi.
In other schools too, the number of students who attended in-person classes was fewer than anticipated based on consent forms. Jyoti Arora, principal of Mount Abu Public School in Rohini, which reopened for in-person classes for students upto Class 9 on Monday, for the first time since March 2020, said, “Attendance was less even though we received consent from 50-60% of students. Around 30-35% attendance was recorded today [Monday] in various classes,” said Arora.
She said that students were happy to be back at school after nearly 19 months and the school would spend the first few days setting the tone of the classroom through orientation sessions. The school is yet to start its transport service and is working out the modalities of the bus routes.
Many other schools are currently in the process of finalising bus routes but are exercising caution amid the abrupt closure of schools in the past. Schools said that while parents were insisting on the resumption of bus services, one needed a minimum number of students to avail of the service.
Sudha Acharya, the principal of ITL Public School, Dwarka, and the chairperson of the National Progressive School’s Conference, a consortium of over 120 private Delhi schools, said that while parents were seeking bus services, the school management was yet to take a call on the decision. “We will have to take permission from the school management before resuming the service. The challenge is that if one is resuming the bus service on a particular route, one would need at least a minimum of 30 students to avail of the facility otherwise it will not be feasible,” said Acharya.
She said that the school was calling students in a staggered manner, due to which students will not be accessing the facility daily. In the absence of daily use, parents might also raise concerns against paying the fees, she added.