Covid protocols in place inside schools, social distancing norms flouted outside
While Delhi schools have started taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of students appearing in the ongoing offline pre-boards and practical exams, amid the spike Covid-19 cases, many parents raised concerns about the physical distancing norm being violated outside several schools in the national capital.
Currently, students of classes 9 to 12 (academic year 2020-21) are allowed to visit schools for examinations and board exam preparations. While the majority of private schools in Delhi have already completed their class 9 and 11 exams, the only students going to school are those in classes 10 and 12, whose practical exams are underway.
In government schools, students of classes 9 to 12 are going to school for their practicals, pre-boards, and mid-term examinations.
Despite clear guidelines from the directorate of education (DoE) for ensuring the entry and exit of students in a staggered manner, large groups of students can be seen outside many schools, violating physical distancing norms.
Outside the government girls’ school in east Delhi’s Vasundhara Enclave, a large number of students could be seen without face masks and standing in groups on Wednesday afternoon. Similar scenes were seen outside several schools at ITO, Minto Road, Jasola, and Subhash Nagar, among other areas.
Anju Chaudhary, the mother of a class 9 student at a government school in Subhash Nagar, said, “I had gone to pick my son from school on Wednesday after his midterm exam and I saw students standing in large groups without maintaining any distance. We have heard in the news that students of many schools have tested Covid-19 positive recently and the violation of norms makes me fearful about the safety of my son. The government should either postpone the exams or instruct schools to ensure the safety of children. ”
Many parents shared similar concerns. Sushil Kumar, the father of a class 12 student at a private school in Jasola, said, “My daughter is going to the school for her practical exams these days and I have seen how students violate the mask rule and social distancing norms outside the school. It makes me doubt the precautions being taken inside the school as well. She has to appear for her board exams from May 4. What will happen if something unfortunate happens now?”
Aprajita Gautam, president of the Delhi Parents’ Association, said the government should either postpone the exams or issue fresh guidelines to schools. “This fresh wave of Covid-19 is scary. Several cases have been reported among students and teachers in the past few days,” she said.
At least seven students tested positive for Covid-19 at Arya Kanya Gurukul in New Rajender Nagar on Monday. The principal and some staff members of another private school, DAV Sreshta Vihar, had also been tested Covid-19 positive last week. Besides, another private school in west Delhi on Monday cancelled a scheduled exam after a class 12 student tested positive.
Several principals said it is a challenge for them to ensure physical distancing outside the school premises. The principal of a government school in Karawal Nagar said, “Most of our teachers are busy with invigilation work, while others are busy with distribution of books, ration and even Covid-19 related work. It’s not possible for schools to deploy staff members outside the campus to ensure enforcement of social distancing norms. It would be better if the government could deploy some civil defence volunteers for the purpose.”
A senior official at the Delhi government’s education department, who asked not to be named, said, “It’s not possible for the government to postpone practical exams of board classes at a time when the CBSE board exams are near. Schools have already been directed to strictly abide by the Covid-19 protocols. The government might consider the ongoing midterm exams for class 9 and 11 as their final exams if the situation continues to remain the same.”
Meanwhile, officials at several schools, both government and private, said they have stepped up the Covid-19 preventive measures. Harpreet Kaur, principal of Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya (SKV) in Tilak Nagar, said, “We have fixed seats for every student so that they can directly go to their assigned room, sit at their assigned seat and take the exam. We have also assigned duties to our staff at the gates to ensure students do not stand in groups while entering and leaving the school premises.”