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Monday, January 17, 2022

“Shutting schools is not cool”: Parents, school children stage demonstration demanding reopening of schools

Jugnu Grewal Almeida said, “The schools (in Gurgaon) were closed on account of severe pollution. Now that the air quality is relatively better, schools should open."

By: Express News Service | Gurgaon |
Updated: December 15, 2021 8:21:55 am
Besides, the NDMC is also upgrading 45 Atal Adharsh Vidyalaya and Navyug Schools with new labs, library, scientific teaching techniques, classrooms and staff rooms and other infrastructure. (File)

A group of parents and school children staged a demonstration at Galleria market in DLF Phase 4 on Tuesday demanding the reopening of schools in Gurgaon. Parents said that for over 21 months, the children had not been to school — on account of the pandemic and now pollution — which was a grave concern for their mental health.

Anju Kapur, a city-based lawyer, said, “Everything else — malls, wedding venues, offices — are open. Why should the schools be closed? It seems that the government has no policy on how to tackle pollution, which is a recurring problem. It has been 21 months since the children have been to school properly. First, it was due to Covid and now because of pollution. For a brief period, the schools opened, and now they have shut again. The children want to go out and meet their friends. We have been approaching the authorities requesting them to open the schools.”

A group of over 30 parents and children, carrying placards that read, “Shutting schools is not answer to pollution”, “We want our children #Back to school”, “We want schools, not screens”, “I want to go to school please”, “Shutting schools is not cool” held a demonstration at the market for half an hour on Tuesday evening.

Jugnu Grewal Almeida said, “The schools were closed on account of severe pollution. Now that the air quality is relatively better, schools should open. Pollution is the same in homes as well. In fact, some schools have now installed air purifiers and are better equipped. For close to two years, the children have been studying online through screens. It takes a toll on their mental health. Children have forgotten how to socialize. The government should leave it to the schools to decide whether to call students or not.”

On December 3, the Haryana Government had ordered the closure of all schools in four districts neighbouring Delhi – Gurgaon, Faridabad, Sonepat and Jhajjar – until further orders due to deteriorating air quality in the NCR. Schools had earlier been shut in the four districts from November 14-17 due to pollution. The CAQM had extended the closure on November 17. A week later on November 25, the deputy commissioner of Gurgaon had issued an order stating all educational institutions in the district shall reopen from November 26.

Chhabi Khare, said, “There is no logic as to why the schools should remain closed on the pretext of pollution. Isn’t pollution everywhere? It is difficult for working parents to manage the tasks with children studying from home for such a long time. We had been discussing that schools should open in our WhatsApp group and decided to organise this small demonstration here today.”

Myra Kapur Dutta, a class 12 student, said that she has not been to school since December 2019. “At the time, we were given preparatory leaves for board exams. Since the onset of the pandemic, schools were shut indefinitely. I think schools should open now considering that Covid cases across NCR are relatively lower and pollution is also not as severe as it was a few weeks ago.”

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