Delhi bad air: Parents and school principals share their thoughts on the shutdown of primary schools 

While few welcome the move, few question the same for senior classes and stress that the severe air condition doesn't have any age bar
Pic credits: Express
Pic credits: Express

On November 4, the Delhi government decided to close primary schools from Saturday, November 5, till further notice and outdoor activities will be curtailed for senior classes due to the severe air conditions in the nation's capital. In this context, it has been decided to conduct classes online. This move was welcomed by several schools in Delhi-NCR region and parents, as stated in a report by PTI. But experts suggest that the government should rework the school vacation schedule as air quality turns severe in winter every year, as stated in a report by The New Indian Express. 

Here's what educators have to say
Principal of Delhi Public School (DPS), Raj Nagar Extension, Pallavi Upadhyaya, said, “We respect the decision taken by authorities and plan on conducting online classes to ensure that there is no learning loss for children. Teachers and students are already adept and comfortable with online classes, so we don’t expect any technical hurdles or glitches. Extra classes are already being conducted in the evening in the online mode. So, for us logging in for classes will never be a hassle.” 

Principal of MRG School in Rohini, Anshu Mittal, said, “The predicament called for necessary action to be taken and we understand the severity of the situation under which the announcement has been made to close down primary schools. Air pollution threatens to reduce the life expectancy of people and causes long-term prevailing breathing and asthma issues. It was an urgent requirement to protect children and restrict their contact with a polluted atmosphere. We respect this decision and will adhere to the guidelines."

The Head of Shri Ram Wonder Years (TSWY) School, Shubhi Soni, believes that the life of students is paramount and said, “We completely understand the worsening levels of air pollution crisis that Delhi-NCR is currently facing. Until the Air Quality Index improves to a good level, it is important to safeguard the health of students and it is a wise call made by the government to shut primary school classes for a while. We hope that the authorities and people, in general, make concerted efforts to reduce pollution levels and that the academic future of children is not compromised."

Principal of Modern Public School Alka Kapur said, “Adhering to the decision, it is very considerate to look out for primary section children as their immunity is not as strong as that of an adult so it becomes more worrisome for them to get exposed to such vulnerable conditions. The online classes will commence as usual, and the timetable will be allocated to the parents by the school teachers."

“Simultaneously, keeping the mental health of children in mind, we will be providing counselling sessions, yoga sessions and awareness sessions. MPS has a health and wellness club which monitors, assesses and assists students in their healthy well-being,” she added.

But is there a permanent solution?
Recently, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) asked the Delhi government to shut schools until the city’s air quality improves. Further, Delhi Parents' Association President Aparajitha Gautam asked, “Does the government think those children won’t suffer from the poor air quality in Delhi?" She added, "The impact of pollution doesn’t have an age bar. Relief should have been given to students of all classes. Moreover, how long will the government continue will these temporary solutions?” 

Commenting on the situation, the Founder and Director of Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group Bharati Chaturvedi said, “This happens every year, so why didn’t the Kejriwal government re-work their vacation schedules? Amid all these, the education of children suffer and the most impacted due to these abrupt school shut downs are the underprivileged ones. Most kids in the slums don’t have access to online classes."

Similarly, supporting these thoughts, the mother of Class V student Jyoti Arora said, “It is a good step considering the level of air pollution at the moment, but the vacation schedules should be looked into beforehand. Pollution and the subsequent school shutdowns in Delhi is nothing new,” she said.

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