The committee has suggested that the process be staggered. In the first phase, higher classes should be reopened, followed by the middle level classes and finally primary classes. The students of Class IXth to XIIth are likely to be called first, probably in the first week of September, with a 50% cap on numbers.
The panel has proposed that parents should have the option of choosing online classes, rather than the physical ones, for their children, sources said. This would mean a hybrid form of imparting lessons which the schools will need to adjust to.
A final decision on reopening of schools will be taken at a DDMA meeting next week when it considers this report. If the suggestions are accepted, the likely dates may be announced. The reopening will, obviously, happen with strict Covid protocols like wearing of masks, social distancing, hand washing, etc. for children so that they remain safe from Covid. The schools will need to follow some standard operating procedures which will be prescribed, said sources.
The committee had been formed on August 6 with officials from the education and health department as its members. Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had told a DDMA meeting that a majority of parents who turned up for the parents-teachers meetings at the Delhi government schools wanted them to be reopened.
The DDMA, subsequently, allowed reopening of schools for students of classes X to XII for practicals and project work with parental consent. The response so far has been mixed. The main worry is that the school students are yet to be vaccinated which leaves them vulnerable to being infected by Covid-19.
Meanwhile, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday that the government wants to reopen schools at the earliest but assured that no risk will be taken when it comes to the health of the students.
“There has been a mixed experience in other states and we are currently monitoring the situation. We do not want to take any risks where the children are involved. We want to reopen the schools at the earliest and whenever a decision on it is taken, we will let you know,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event.
While almost all economic activities have been allowed to resume in the capital, the Delhi government has been moving very cautiously on reopening of schools. It had sought feedback from students, teachers, parents and other stakeholders on reopening of schools and other educational institutions. The move had elicited an encouraging response with the government receiving more than 35,000 suggestions. Around 68% wanted the schools to reopen.
Schools and other educational institutions in the city have remained closed since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 and online classes have become the norm.
A committee of experts constituted under the National Institute of Disaster Management recently submitted its report to the PMO warning of an imminent third Covid wave that could peak around October and sought better preparedness for children who might be at similar risk as adults. The vulnerability of kids as they have not been vaccinated has been discussed with most experts of the view they are not prone to severe infections though they can pass the virus to others.
Several states recently reopened schools and educational institutions, mostly for the higher classes, as the overall Covid-19 situation is under control in most parts of the country.