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Friday, February 26, 2021

Delhi: Classes 9 and 11 reopen, Manish Sisodia says cannot wait for zero cases

While all government schools reopened for these classes on Friday, most private schools will do so only next week, using the extra couple of days to ensure their preparedness.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |
February 6, 2021 12:56:03 am
Education minister Manish Sisodia with students of classes 9 and 11, Friday. (Express photo: Praveen Khanna)

Nearly 11 months after schools closed in mid-March last year, students of classes IX and XI returned to their classrooms on Friday.

While all government schools reopened for these classes on Friday, most private schools will do so only next week, using the extra couple of days to ensure their preparedness.

This is the second phase of reopening of schools in Delhi — they had already reopened for class X and XII students on January 18.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who visited Government Girls Senior Secondary School in Gandhi Nagar on Friday to review the arrangements, said the gradual reopening of schools is a “sign of return to normalcy”.

“We cannot wait for ‘Zero Covid Case Day’ as it is necessary for us to adapt to our new lives in this pandemic. Students of classes X and XII were able to strictly follow Covid-19 instructions given to them, due to which we are confident to reopen classes IX and XI as well. We are starting on a positive note that all our students will follow Covid-19 precautions and start to get back to their normal life… Parents had an optimistic reaction to the reopening of classes X and XII. We listened to their request and decided to reopen classes IX and XI as well. Our lives have slowly begun to get back on track. With reopening of the schools, we are hopeful that we will be able to face all the uncertain challenges ahead of us,” he said.

The same Covid protocol that applied to schools when they reopened for classes X and XII continues to be in place — only students with written consent from their parents may attend school; limited number of students per classroom; no changing of classrooms during the day; no assembly or outdoor activities; masks on at all times; temperature checks; no movement during lunch breaks; and no sharing, among others.

With the number of students coming to school now set to double, different schools have adopted different systems of staggering their attendance to limit their numbers.

“We have decided that school timings for classes X and XII will be 8 am to 11 am, with three one-hour-long periods. Classes IX and XI will have three 45-minute-periods between 12 pm and 2.15 pm. During the one-hour interval in between, we will sanitise the premises… On our first day today, I had assigned a large number of teachers between the gate and the classrooms during entry time because I knew that many of the children might rush towards each and hold hands or hug,” said Awadhesh Jha, head of a government school in Rohini.

On Friday, 168 of 318 class IX students turned up at the school, while for class XI, it was 137 out of 233 students.

At Government Co-ed Senior Secondary School, Chilla Gaon, while class X and XII students have school from Monday to Saturday, class IX and XI students will attend on alternate days.

“We are following a full school day from 8 am to 2.15 pm. Class XI students and two sections of class IX will attend on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while the remaining five sections of class IX will attend on the remaining days,” said Ajay Kumar, the school principal.

The head of a government school in East Delhi said the syllabus will be taught in these classes right from the start, stating they could not rely on what the students learnt in online classes. However, he flagged that several teachers in his school are still on Covid duty.

“Because we had around 30% attendance in classes IX and XI, we are able to manage. But if the numbers increase, they will have to be spread across more classrooms and we will not have enough staff strength to manage that and won’t be able to teach all students in one day. Six TGT teachers from my school are still on Covid duty,” he said.

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