DDMA panel recommends reopening of Delhi schools for classes 6 to 8
A DDMA constituted panel has recommended reopening schools for classes 6 to 8 in Delhi with 50 per cent student strength as it noted that there has been no reported instances of increased local transmission of COVID-19 due to reopening classes 9 to 12, according to minutes of a DDMA meeting.
The panel, constituted to chalk out a detailed plan and standard operating procedures (SOPS) for reopening schools, also noted that attendance of senior class students has increased up to 80 per cent, and around 95 per cent teachers and school staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the minutes which were published on Tuesday.
The 25th meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the national capital was held on September 29. Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, who chaired the meeting, had announced that a decision regarding reopening of schools for classes 6 to 8 will be taken after the festival season.
The director for education had said at the meeting, “No reported instance of any increased local transmission of COVID-19 in Delhi due to reopening of schools for classes 9 to 12. There has been steady increase in attendance of students (approximately 80 per cent) physically attending schools.”
The official had said that approximately 95% teachers and other staff of schools have been vaccinated, and Covid-appropriate behaviour (CAB) is being strictly followed in all schools.
"The joint committee has recommended that schools may be reopened for classes 6 to 8 from October 1 and attendance to be voluntary and with parental consent only. Only 50 per cent of students to be called to schools,” the director education had said.
“Blended mode of teaching learning process (online and offline) should be continued. Vaccination of teachers and other staff in schools should be prioritised,” the official had said.
Schools may resume transport facility for students with 50 per cent seating capacity and following CAB, the director education had said in the meeting.
Experts present at the September 29 meeting had also opined that the next the two to three months are very critical in view of festivals like Navratra, Dusshera and Diwali.
"VK Paul, member, Niti Aayog, suggested a call on reopening of schools may be taken after the festival season as by that time there would be higher coverage of vaccination as well,” according to the minutes of the DDMA meeting.
“He stated that the next two to three months are very critical as festivals like Navratra, Dusshera and Diwali are approaching. During these times people tend to move and congregate in markets for shopping. Community celebration of festivals also takes place," the meeting minutes stated
AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria had also observed that it would be safer to open schools after Diwali as there would be a number of holidays in the coming festival months and as such there would be no impact on studies of students.
"Balram Bhargava, DG (director general), ICMR, suggested that there should be 100 per cent vaccination of all teachers and staff associated with the functioning of schools with zero tolerance," the meeting minutes said.
However, Krishna Vatsa, member, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) was of the view that school for classes 6 to 8 should be opened from October 1 and for others it may be opened after Diwali.
Schools in the national capital were ordered to shut last year in March ahead of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
While several states started partial reopening of schools in October last year, the Delhi government allowed physical classes only for classes 9-12 in January this year, which were again suspended following the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases during the aggressive second wave.
Following a marked improvement in the COVID-19 situation in the national capital, the Delhi government had announced reopening of schools for classes 9 to 12, colleges and coaching institutions from September 1.
The Delhi government had clarified that no student would be forced to attend physical classes and the consent of parents would be mandatory.
Allowing only 50 per cent students per classroom, mandatory thermal screening, staggered lunch breaks, alternate seating arrangement and avoiding routine guest visits were among the guidelines announced by the DDMA for reopening of schools and colleges from September 1.