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Parents on DDMA order: Why open everything except schools?

🔴 At Thursday’s meeting, it was decided that various establishments would be permitted to open with 50% capacity — restaurants, bars, cinema halls — from Friday but discussion on reopening schools was pushed to the next meeting.

Delhi schools, Delhi schools closure, Delhi schools Covid, Delhi schools reopening, Manish Sisodia, Delhi news, Delhi city news, New Delhi, India news, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India News“The matter had been raised but there was a one-line response that it would be discussed in the next meeting. We were hoping that we could move towards reopening,” said an education department official.

Advocates for school reopening were disappointed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority’s decision to defer discussion on the matter, a day after Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia publicly stated his support for the same.

On Wednesday, Sisodia had met with a delegation of parents who had submitted a memorandum requesting that schools and anganwadi centres be the first to reopen as and when Delhi begins lifting its current set of Covid restrictions. After this meeting, he had said the government would recommend reopening of schools in Thursday’s DDMA meeting.

“I agree with the parents’ demands. We closed school when it was not safe for children, but excessive caution is now harming our children. A generation of children will be left behind if we do not open our schools now,” he had tweeted.

However, at Thursday’s meeting, it was decided that various establishments would be permitted to open with 50% capacity — restaurants, bars, cinema halls — from Friday but discussion on reopening schools was pushed to the next meeting.

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Parents who had signed the petition to the government said they had been optimistic after Wednesday’s meeting.

“Our expectation was that it would be a logical decision-making meeting, and that schools would be given central attention because they’re so much more critical than restaurants, bars, cinema halls and malls. A lot of parents are feeling crushed because the Deputy CM had publicly come in support… I think what we want to know is what is the logic for opening everything except school when experts everywhere are saying that it’s safe and necessary that kids go back to classrooms,” said Simran Khara, one of the parents.

“The matter had been raised but there was a one-line response that it would be discussed in the next meeting. We were hoping that we could move towards reopening,” said an education department official.

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The Indian Express had reported that from March 1, 2020, to October 31, 2021, Delhi schools were shut for 85 weeks or approximately 19 months — fully closed for 65 weeks, partially for 20 weeks. The worst-hit are young students with city schools permitted to open for primary classes for just 18 days since the start of the pandemic.

No call to reopen gyms

Along with schools, a decision is yet to be taken on reopening gyms in the capital. Said a senior government official: “Gyms are one of the most contagious places as people workout in proximity. Several gyms in the city are in congested clusters and operate from small spaces… Covid protocol cannot be implemented here.”

Stating that opening gyms even at 50% capacity is futile, he added, “Gyms could prove to be a super spreader for the virus. However, the matter will be taken up in the next meeting, on February 7, along with school reopening. Gyms will be reopened if cases continue to dip.”

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Gym associations and trainers said their livelihoods have been severely affected by the restrictions and they will protest until their demands are met.

“Delhi had about 12,000 gyms but hardly 3,000 are in business currently. Owing to closures due to lockdowns, several gyms are staring at severe losses. We are losing customers and it is becoming difficult to even look after our families. We will wait till Monday; if the government does not lift the ban, we will protest,” Sunil Kumar Taank, president of the Indian Gym Welfare Association, said.

The DDMA had closed gyms on December 27 when cases started increasing.

First published on: 28-01-2022 at 02:50 IST
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