Delhi: Schools for junior classes may reopen, modalities to be decided after Dussehra
With the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) considering allowing junior schools to reopen for in-person learning in a phased manner, educational institutes in the Capital will begin planning how to hold staggered classes for their students. The modalities for the reopening of the remaining classes in schools will be decided at the first DDMA meeting after Dussehra, said a DDMA official.
Educational institutes in the capital, including schools, colleges, and coaching centres for students of classes 8 onwards reopened last month following a DDMA order on August 30.
Several schools said they have been receiving queries from parents on the reopening of junior classes as the closure of schools due to the pandemic led to severe learning and emotional deficits.
The National Progressive Schools Conference, which comprises top schools in Delhi, said it plans to resume in-person learning for classes 6 to 8 in November.
Malini Narayanan, the chairperson of the group, said, “We will implement the same blended learning model for these classes and students will not be called to the school on all days. Learning will continue with a combination of online and in-person classes. Schools can start with classes 6 to 8 first and then call the junior students based on the prevailing Covid-19 situation around mid-November.”
Narayanan said that parents and children had been approaching her about the reopening and many were left disappointed when the August DDMA order focused on reopening educational institutes only for students of classes 9 onwards.
“Parents have been eagerly waiting for schools to reopen because the social-emotional learning and connection with peers, which is important for holistic development of children, has been missing as schools have been closed for over a year. Once schools reopen for classes 6-8, we can also take a call on providing transport (school buses) based on student strength for the convenience of parents,” she said.
The Action Committee for Unaided Private Schools, a group of over 450 private schools in the city, also welcomed the latest DDMA decision. Its general secretary Bharat Arora said, “We understand that the possible spread of Covid-19 during the festive season is a genuine concern, but the decision should be reconsidered after Dussehra. It is time when we all stakeholders need to realise academic gaps and take proactive decisions accordingly.”
Some schools in the capital may have issues in reopening as many are serving as vaccination centres with multiple sites on the premises. Since teachers have also been engaged in Covid-19 duties, principals said it was important to relieve teachers of those duties so that they could focus solely on academic work.
Government school principal Sukhbir Singh Yadav, who is also the president of Vice and Principals’ Association of Delhi, said, “If schools are reopening for all classes, teachers and staff engaged in Covid-19 duties such as at the airport or hospitals should also be allowed to return to schools because the student strength will increase substantially. Government schools, with the paucity of space, may face problems in holding classes in a staggered manner while maintaining physical distancing protocols as many have vaccination centres on their premises. If the Covid-19 situation remains under control, we would prefer calling students from classes 6 to 8 in November and then the junior classes in December after the festive season is over,” he said.
Old Delhi resident Nazia Habib, whose children study in class 7 and kindergarten, said, “Since tuitions have begun, students have been able to catch up a little on studies even with online learning. But the Covid-19 fear is still there. Every day, we read reports from across the world of reinfection. Most parents I know would not be keen on sending their children to school without vaccination.”
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