Up in the air: Delhi pvt schools brace for digital switch, next week key

BySadia Akhtar, New Delhi
Nov 05, 2022 04:52 AM IST

According to heads of institutions in Delhi, the focus will be on minimising learning disruption which, for primary classes, means immediate online learning.

The Delhi government on Friday ordered all primary classes to close till Tuesday and prohibited older children from outdoor activities, bringing back the online learning for many schools as the city reels under its annual bad air crisis, which is particularly dangerous for the young and the elderly.

School students wait for a bus in the smog. (Representative image/HT Archive)
School students wait for a bus in the smog. (Representative image/HT Archive)

According to heads of institutions, the focus will be on minimising learning disruption which, for primary classes, means immediate online learning.

Sudha Acharya, chairperson of the National Progressive School Conference (NPSC) and the principal of ITL School, Dwarka, said her institute curbed physical activities for senior students, who will continue to attend lessons in person, unless “the air worsens further”.

NPSC has more than 120 Delhi schools as its members, including Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Delhi Public Schools and Amity International School.

Also read: WFH for 50% govt staff, primary schools shut among steps for Delhi air pollution

“Under all circumstances, classes will continue. Even if physical classes are suspended, learning will not be affected and we will switch to online classes,” said Acharya.

“If the pollution situation deteriorates further, we may explore the possibility of calling off in-person classes for senior students [as well]. However, right now, there are no such plans,” said Acharya.

Rashmi Raj Biswal, principal of DAV Public School, Pushpanjali Enclave, said the school could seamlessly transition to online lessons, if required. “We have suspended outdoor activities for children in senior classes. We only conduct classes for Grade 5 on Saturday,” said Biswal.

Tania Joshi, principal of The Indian School, said that the school had asked children in primary classes to not come to school until further orders. Joshi said some of the parents had been requesting classes be suspended too. “We will wait for the orders and decide if we need to start online classes from Monday. We are in a dilemma since the pandemic-induced school course created significant learning gaps. We want to avoid a repeat of the same since the routine learning cycle gets affected. That said, we will abide by the government’s directions,” said Joshi.

School education has been hit hard by repeated closures in the past couple of years. In 2020, they stayed shut for most of the academic year due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The following year too, outbreaks of Covid forced schools to be closed.

Joshi said the school had already informed children in senior classes to not venture out of classrooms for physical education classes or other activities if they had any health concerns.

Also read: AAP to focus on garbage, sanitation in MCD campaign

Many parents said that they were yet to receive directions from schools. Arif Siddiqui, a parent of a class 4 student at a private school in south Delhi, said his son’s school had not given clarity on the suspension of classes. “We have been told that the school is waiting for a written order from the government. Since classes don’t usually take place on Saturday, the school might give us clarity during the weekend,” said Siddiqui.

Aprajita Gautam, president, Delhi Parents Association, said most parents wanted schools to switch to online classes in view of pollution but an indefinite closure should be avoided. “Pollution affects all children. It would have been better if the government had called off classes till class 12. They could have given a break to children for the next two days and announced the initiation of online classes from Monday. Parents are in favour of online classes largely but the government should have given a specific date to reduce uncertainty on the fate of classes,” said Gautam.

Meeta Sengupta, an educationist, said that schools should not give up on the learnings and skills that they gathered during the pandemic. She said that schools should not be wary of switching to online classes, if required. “Schools should give children flexibility and utilise the learnings from the pandemic. Going back to an inflexible system that doesn’t prioritise the interest of students is not healthy. Schools should give priority to flexibility and student accessibility,” said Sengupta.

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