Schools, colleges, universities and coaching institutes in Delhi will reopen in phases from September 1, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced Friday.
Educational institutes in the city had closed on April 9 as the second wave of Covid-19 led to a surge in cases, eventually prompting the authorities to impose a stringent lockdown.
The decision to reopen schools was taken at a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA). Top officials, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Lt Governor Anil Baijal, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria, NITI Aayog member (health) VK Paul, are members of the DDMA.
Sisodia said from September 1, schools will start holding physical classes for those in grades 9 to 12. Moreover, colleges and universities, along with coaching institutes, will also reopen.
It was not immediately clear if the colleges affiliated to the Delhi University will also resume classes from September 1. Sisodia said detailed guidelines on the reopening of educational institutions will be issued soon.
Sisodia also said that students will require the permission of parents or guardians to attend physical classes. Those not comfortable attending physical classes will have the option to continue with the online mode. While physical classes were suspended in Delhi schools on March 12 last year, higher classes had reopened briefly between January and March.
After the DDMA meeting, a senior official, who attended the deliberations, had claimed that classes 6 to 8 will resume from September 8. However, Sisodia said the decision on allowing students below Class 9 will be taken after assessing the first phase of reopening.
Sisodia said around 98 per cent teachers of 1,053 government schools in Delhi have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, and the rate of vaccination is high among private school teachers as well. There are 1,368 private schools in the city recognised by the Directorate of Education.
An in-principle decision to reopen schools from September 1 was taken by the DDMA earlier this month after experts, including Dr Guleria of AIIMS, had expressed that “opening of schools must be considered as students have suffered a lot”.
On Friday, Sisodia said the education imparted via online classes are not a match for physical classes in schools.
“Social distancing will have to be ensured. No one will be forced to attend schools and no one will be marked absent for skipping physical classes. Classes will take place in blended mode – both online and physical. So far, five states across the country have reopened schools for all classes — from nursery to standard 12. In around 12 states, classes 6 to 12 have reopened. In our survey, we found 70 per cent parents were in favour of reopening schools,” Sisodia said.