Schools have gradually started to re-open after being shut for more than 18 months, but parents seem less enthusiastic about sending their kids to schools as they are afraid that their children might get infected.
Sudha Acharya, Chairperson of National Progressive School Conference, said: “The children are coming after a long time and thus we are not focusing on academics only, but a lot of other activities have also been planned for them like music, dance, playing together so that students enjoy and there is free flow of emotions.”
She also said there is a long learning gap that has disturbed the normal flow, but “we are taking care of social and emotional learning for students keeping the SOPs intact”.
The IX to XII classes had opened on 1 September, but there was no approval for younger children to attend classes. In a DDMA meeting last month, it was decided that all grades and all schools may be permitted to open. From 1 November, all schools in Delhi were permitted to re-open, including the primary level schools which until recently were not allowed to open for even a single day since Delhi had shut schools as a precaution against Covid-19 infections.
Although for IX and XII, schools had opened briefly in January this year, they later closed completely on 9 April as precautions against the second wave of the pandemic.
Samara Hakim, a class 10 student who studies in a private school, said: “Though our classes started much earlier (September), attendance had been pretty low, but now that there is more counseling and focus on resumption of normal school work, the roll is gradually increasing.” She added: “Initially, only 17 students out of 47 would attend the offline classes, but now there are around 40 students present.”
Another student said there are a few restraints in school. “We have to bear, we cannot move out in recess and we can’t talk much to each other. We have to sanitise our hands and cannot share our lunch, plus we have to maintain masks all the time.”
A teacher of a government primary school, wishing anonymity, said parents are still hesitating to send their kids. “Kids don’t know much about social distancing and we can’t hold them back for long. They will mingle anyways, so we are trying to do as much as we can and also give choice to the parents of either sending the students offline or attending online classes.”
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had said that the opening of schools will be subject to conditions, for no parent should be pushed to send their children to schools. Shagufta Shereen, a parent of a 4th grade student, said: “Parents were given a choice either to send their students and attend the class physically or they could just sit back home and attend online. I chose not to send my child because below 17 of age students are not fully vaccinated, and now that schools are opening fully and physical behaviour is being maintained, it is better to resume the normal schedule and bring back the school environment for my child.”
Rajesh, a principal of primary and middle school, said, “For now, parents are reluctant to send their children and those who do not understand how the schools are important in development and attending classes and won’t affect their health is a task for us to contend with.
Right now, we have only 50% attendance in primary and middle class.” She added that children have forgot how to read and write and “our primary focus is to bring them back into the fold of reading and writing, while keeping the precautions intact.”