In line with decisions taken by several other states, the Delhi government has decided to extend the closure of schools in the city for all students at least till the end of October. The reason that has been cited for this is “lack of confidence among parents”.
The Unlock 5 guidelines issued by the Union government, however, has allowed states to open their education institutions in a phased manner from October 15. In the Unlock 4 guidelines, the Union Ministry for Health and Welfare had allowed schools outside containment zones to reopen from September 21 for senior students of classes IX to XII, stating that attendance by students is to be on a voluntary basis if they want guidance from their teachers.
A government official had told The Indian Express, “There has been discussions with school principals who are in close touch with parents. The overwhelming response has been that there is a lack of confidence that their children will be safe among a large number of students. With the large number of reported cases as well, we thought to take another month to see if it will be more amenable then”.
After the Unlock 4 guidelines, many private schools in the city had reached out to parents of their senior students to find out if they would be willing to send their children to school. In these surveys, schools had found that most parents were unwilling. For instance, such an exercise in Mount Abu Public School in Rohini had shown that 75% parents of senior students were unwilling to send their children to school.
After the Unlock 5 guidelines were issued, the Delhi Parents Association also started a survey to find out if parents want schools to reopen. While the survey is still ongoing, after two days of polling, among more than 2000 respondents, around 95% said that they do not want schools to reopen now.
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While schools remain shut, 50% of school staff were allowed to come to work after Unlock 4. In many government schools, teachers are reporting to school for duty 2-3 days a week.
“There is a lot of administrative work to do. We are currently preparing the list of candidates for the 2021 board examinations. We are also working on the board registration of class IX and XI students. Then admissions are also taking place and books need to be distributed. We also have parents frequently coming to the school to ask questions or ask for some school-related help. At any point of time, we need 30% of the staff to be present to deal with all this,” said Awadhesh Jha, principal of a government school in Rohini.
In other states with a high number of COVID cases, such as Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, the state governments have similarly decided not to open schools this month. In neighbouring Gurgaon, government schools had opened for senior students after Unlock 4 but most private schools had continued to remain closed because of the unwillingness of parents to send their children. In Uttar Pradesh, after Unlock 4, the state government has allowed for the phased reopening of schools after due permission from parents.
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