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“Knowledge Gap For A Generation”: Delhi Government on Reopening Schools

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Delhi government has allowed schools to reopen from September 1, for classes 9-12 with strict safety protocols. Schools in the national capital had been shut for almost 1.5 years since March 2020. 

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia stated that the decision to reopen schools couldn’t be delayed any further as “an entire generation would otherwise suffer a knowledge gap”. The central universities located in Delhi are also contemplating opening up the campus for students in a phased manner. 

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The safety of students, teachers and other staff is of paramount importance to the Delhi government. 50 per cent seating capacity in classrooms, staggered lunch breaks in open areas, alternate seating arrangements, thermal screening of teachers and students, vaccination of teachers are some of the necessary guidelines that the state government has emphasised. 

Mr. Sisodia in an interview with NDTV said, “Schools have been shut for the last 1.5 years. Students have suffered a lot. We all are concerned about their health… but also about their studies. When we sought suggestions, we found that 70 per cent of parents wanted the schools to open. A large number of parents insisted on adherence to protocol. While experts told us that we could go ahead and reopen primary schools too, because younger children are at less risk, we thought of starting with classes 9 to 12.”

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The Delhi government is also planning to offer bridge courses to students who have lost a critical academic year due to the pandemic. “Pandemic has thrown a lot of challenges our way. Students have already suffered a lot. It may be called a risky decision but the students are already at risk by not being able to access the adequate resources that they need. Now that Delhi is seeing 30-35 Covid cases every day, we can afford to go ahead with the move’, said Mr. Sisodia further in a statement. 

Some states witnessed a rise in the number of fresh cases after reopening schools. Mr Sisodia ensured that the Delhi administration is “alert”. He mentioned that schools will have to shut down if the capital sees an upsurge of daily infection numbers. “If there is any risk of Covid-19 spread in any school, it will take 30 minutes to close it. The school will be shut immediately,” Sisodia added.

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The harsh second wave of Covid-19 swept brutally across the national capital and took millions of lives. A lot of children lost their loved ones to the pandemic or saw a financial crisis at home. 

To help children deal with post-covid stress, the Delhi government is trying to ensure open conversations with students in schools that would help them with their mental health. 

“Pandemic has left a deep impact on many children and officials have been told to hold healthy conversations with children and not just focus on studies. The baggage has to be unloaded undoubtedly. It’s a part of their grooming. We have ensured that in every school, students are given a platform to talk it out,” Mr. Sisodia elaborated.

A lot of schools witnessed thin attendance on the first day due to heavy showers in the city. The number however may go up once the phased opening up of schools gains some momentum.

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