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Delhi’s air quality causes schools to suspend outdoor activities

Experts suggest that all outdoor activities should be restricted if the air quality index reaches a range of 301 to 400. On Thursday, it was 311, which deteriorated to 324 on Friday.

delhi Updated: Nov 04, 2017 07:56 IST
Heena Kausar and A Mariyam Alavi
Heena Kausar and A Mariyam Alavi
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Air quality,Schools,Delhi pollution
A boy wears a mask and holds a placard to address the alarming air pollution levels in the national capital.(Burhaan Kinu/HT file)

Some of the top private schools suspended sports and outdoor activities because of bad air quality in the national capital, which struggles with smog and dust every year after Diwali.

Tagore International School in Vasant Vihar has enforced the restrictions since the festival of lights, celebrated this year on October 19.

The Shri Ram Schools did it on Friday. Sanskriti School in the diplomatic enclave of Chankyapuri will do it from Monday. And the American Embassy School, another premier institution in Chankyapuri, regularly suspends outdoor aerobics when the air quality index (AQI) touches 300.

Springdales School, Sardar Patel Vidyalaya and Ahlcon International School as well as government schools said they will wait until the pollution level gets worse.

According to the government’s “graded response action plan” to cut pollution in the city of more than 20 million people, schools must close when the AQI crosses 500.

The government will take measures in accordance with the anti-pollution plan in place in the Capital, according to Atishi Marlena, adviser to Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia.

Experts suggested that all outdoor activities should be restricted if the AQI reaches a range of 301 to 400. The AQI on Thursday was 311, and it deteriorated to 324 on Friday.

Principals of private schools said they would take steps as and when necessary.

“Pollution levels are higher in the morning and younger students are more susceptible to it. Last year, we had to shift our annual sports day because of the conditions. We plan to hold the sports day for junior classes in February,” said Manika Sarkar, director of The Shri Ram Schools.

Tagore International School restricted its outdoor morning assembly for students to once a week since Diwali.

“All outdoor activities have been suspended. We will wait and see how it goes in the coming days and take a decision on what to do next,” principal Madhulika Sen said.

For parents of kids studying at American Embassy School, such directives are not new.

“Our school has standard rules. If the air quality level goes above 300 anytime, all outdoor activities are cancelled,” a parent said.

Quoting the school’s rules, the parent said the physical education department “will modify activities in order to keep heart rates and respiration rates low… Any activity will be short in duration and of minimal physical demand”.

At Ahlcon, restrictions have not been imposed as most activities happen indoors since the school has a small campus.

“We have not yet hit the levels of air pollution where we need to hit the panic button,” principal Ashok Pandey said.

The principal of Springdales School on Pusa Road also suggested against sounding the alarm.

“I have kids with asthma coming regularly to school, without using masks. Parents are already grappling with fears of kids contracting dengue and chikungunya. I don’t want to alarm them more about their kids’ health,” said Ameeta Wattal, the principal.

First Published: Nov 04, 2017 07:23 IST