Delhi government’s directorate of education on Sunday issued a circular saying schools will continue to remain shut for primary students (up to Class 5 ) till November 10 owing to the deteriorating air quality, adding that heads of schools can decide whether they want to conduct classes for Class 6 onwards.
Most schools said that they would conduct classes offline for the time being as mid-term examinations were approaching and some private schools have switched to online classes. Some government schools said they will first ascertain whether their students have devices for online classes.
The order, dated November 5 said, “For Classes VI onwards, the Heads of Schools shall have the option either to call students for physical classes or to have these classes conducted online – depending on the digital infrastructure and readiness of the school to conduct online classes.”
The principal of a government school, who did not wish to be named, said that they will hold offline classes for Class VI onwards on Monday. “On Monday, the teachers will ask students how many of them have devices for online classes. We will take a decision based on that,” the principal said, adding that during the pandemic-induced lockdowns, and pollution season in the past two years, many students were at a loss because they did not have devices to access the online classes.
The principal of Mount Abu School in Rohini, Jyoti Arora, said they will conduct classes offline for the time being. However, after Grap stage 4 begins to be implemented, she said they will consider moving to online classes and will notify parents accordingly.
Grap 4 states that governments can explore emergency measures such as closing educational institutions. Colleges have not yet moved to online classes. An official of Delhi University said that classes were taking place offline as of now, and they will discuss whether there is a need to move online.
Alka Kapur, principal of Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, and president of Delhi Sahodaya Schools Complex said, “Because examinations are around the corner, we are holding offline classes… we are ensuring that students wear masks and stay indoors.”
Meanwhile, many parents thought that suspending classes was only a temporary measure. “Suspending schools only impacts their studies and many students do not have access to mobile phones,” said Aprajita Gautam, president of the Delhi Parents’ Association.
“Parents might have phones but they take them to work and there are families with more than one child. If classes shift online, parents have to ensure every child has a touch phone and internet,” said Satya Prakash, Delhi president of the All India Parents’ Association, adding that suspension was a stopgap measure and that schools should instead arrange air purifiers in every classroom.