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Monday, July 04, 2022

As parents seek school reopening, Sisodia says much needed for well-being of students

🔴 Apart from learning losses, the petition also points to physical and mental health issues and the risk of social isolation and developmental issues in younger children.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: January 27, 2022 3:21:10 am
delhi schools reopen covidIn the 2022-23 budget, the Centre's share in the Samagra Shiksha budget has been fixed at Rs 37,383 crore, up from Rs 31,050 crore in 2021-22. (Express File/Abhinav Saha)

Following a meeting with a delegation of parents demanding reopening of schools on priority, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the Delhi government will recommend it in the DDMA meeting scheduled for Thursday.

“Over the past two years, school children’s lives have been confined to their rooms. Instead of going to schools and spending time on playgrounds, all their activities now take place only on mobile phones. The pandemic-induced school closures have not only affected their studies but also their mental health. During Covid, our priority was children’s safety. But since various researches have now found that Covid is not very harmful to kids, it is important to reopen schools, as now is the time for exams and related preparations,” he said.

The delegation of parents he met on Wednesday had submitted a petition requesting the opening of schools and anganwadi centres for physical classes on priority as and when Delhi begins lifting its current set of Covid restrictions.

As many as 1,607 people, including doctors, drivers, lawyers, shopkeepers and homemakers, had signed the petition addressed to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, Union Department of School Education & Literacy secretary Anita Karwal, Delhi chief secretary Vijay Dev, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairman Priyank Kanoongo, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) chairman Anurag Kundu and Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) chairman Manoj Ahuja.

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“On Republic Day, as citizens and voters, we strongly urge you to respect our children’s constitutional rights to education, health, and life. As you lift Omicron-related restrictions, schools and anganwadis must be the first to open (for all classes). Attendance can be subject to parental consent. SOPs must be reviewed and updated in a timely manner based on current science — they must be realistic in order to restore normalcy to our children’s lives and education,” it states.

With the onset of the third Covid wave, schools were shut again on December 29 and were allowed to open for primary students for 18 days so far since the beginning of the pandemic.

In Maharashtra, schools opened for all classes including pre-primary this week. Apart from substantial learning losses, the petition also points to the physical and mental health issues, risk of social isolation and developmental issues in children.

“Any decision requires an assessment of risks and benefits. Covid-19 is not the only risk to our children; the definition of ‘health’ must be expanded to mean more than the mere absence of Covid-19. The harms of prolonged school closures significantly outweigh the benefits.  Experts have also concluded that younger children are at very low risk of severe or fatal Covid-19 and vaccination is not a prerequisite for opening schools..,” it states.

This was echoed in a tweet posted by Sisodia after the meeting: “I agree with the parents’ demands. We closed schools when it was not safe but excessive caution is now harming them. A generation of children will be left behind if we do not open schools now.”

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