Published: 15th November 2021
As Delhi schools shut down due to poor air quality levels for a week, principals share their concerns
On Saturday, November 13, the air quality of Delhi remained in the severe category for the third consecutive day, with the air quality index recorded at 437
For a week from today, November 15, schools, colleges and educational institutes situated in the national capital will be closed for physical classes. This decision has been taken due to the poor air quality, which is fast deteriorating, and was announced by the Government of Delhi after the Supreme Court deemed the rise in pollution levels an “emergency situation”. It is to be recalled that it was only on November 1, after a period of 19 months, that schools in Delhi reopened for all classes.
President of the Delhi Parents' Association, Aparajita Gautam, welcomed the decision of the Delhi government and told The Indian Express in a report that, “Students were already at risk due to COVID-19 and suddenly cases have begun rising too. To put students at further risk due to the pollution would have been dangerous.”
Applauding the Delhi government's move to ensure students and teachers’ health and welfare, Anshu Mittal, Principal, MRG School in Rohini, stated that they were geared up to open schools for Nursery to Class VII from November 15 and, "Activities enhancing student-teacher dynamic and some parent-students activities were also planned," the principal said. However, poor air quality can have serious long-term effects, she added.
“One of the major concerns that remains is preparation for the upcoming Board exams, which was planned with mock classes and remedial sessions. This will be hampered due to delay in school opening and will have to be transformed completely online for the time being,” she told PTI.
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Alka Kapur, Principal, Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, shared a different view with regards to the suspension of physical classes. Citing the reason that schools were already reopening after a long gap, which badly affected studies, "I believe some alternative steps should have been worked out like suspension of outdoor activities rather than completely closing schools,” she said.
“Such adverse changes in the air quality are resulting in significant health implications, leading to a decrease in life expectancy. If such conditions persist, Delhi residents might start exploring options for employment in surrounding areas along with migration for better living as well,” said Kartik Singhal, Founder of O2 Cure and Director at Zeco Aircon. He also called for requisite measures to be taken against inhaling poisonous air from various pollutants, both indoor and outdoor places.
It was the Supreme Court that stated, on November 13, that the pollution was so bad that people were forced to wear masks even inside their houses. Suggesting lockdown, the top court asked the Government of Delhi to take immediate measures to improve the air quality.