With schools in Delhi allowed to reopen from Monday, parents and teachers in Gautam Budh Nagar say that schools in the district should reopen as well.
They say the lack of physical classes is not just affecting the students’ education, but their overall development as well.
The government had issued directives regarding the closure of all schools in Uttar Pradesh from January 16 to 23 this year due to the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. Later, the closure was extended till February 6 and schools were asked to conduct online classes.
Yatendra Kasana, president of All Noida School Parents Association (ANSPA), said that now that the number of Covid-19 cases seems to be coming down, schools should be reopened.
The district reported 218 new Covid cases and one death due to the virus on Friday. The number of active cases in the district is 1,994 . This is in contrast to two weeks ago, when the number of active cases was over 12,000 and the district was reporting over 2,000 cases per day. The number of active cases reduced to 3,000 a week later when about 1,000 cases were reported everyday.
“Attending only online classes has adversely affected the social skills of children. Even children have started feeling irritated after being confined at home for so long. Children are unable to expand their horizons and their overall personality growth is affected because physical classes are suspended. We hope the administration reopens schools soon,” said Kasana.
Aditi Basu Roy, the principal of Grads International School, Greater Noida, and president of All India School Principals Association, Gautam Budh Nagar–a consortium of private schools in the district– agreed that physical classes for all students should be reopened.
“It is essential for pre-primary and primary students to start attending physical classes. Educational institutions are not just for passing exams, they are also essential for physical activities, discipline and social skills. Younger students need this even more than older ones,” said Roy.
Last year, the Uttar Pradesh government ordered that secondary classes could be reopened on August 16 and primary classes on September 1. Roy added that the teachers noticed that students of classes 2 to 4 had almost forgotten how to write.
Renu Singh, principal of Amity International School, said the teachers have noticed that students have become lackadaisical towards education due to classes being held online. “Teachers are not able to impose discipline among students during online classes, as a result of which, a number of students have become lackadaisical. When schools had reopened last year, we had also noticed that the students had become socially awkward and lacked confidence,” said Singh.
Some parents say that since vaccination for students in the 15-18 age group began in January, reopening schools should be safe. Of the total 371,800 vaccine doses administered in Gautam Budh Nagar so far, 83,208 vaccines have been administered to beneficiaries between the age of 15-18 years. According to the Gautam Budh Nagar health department, the total number of beneficiaries in the 15-18 age group in the district is 115,592.
“If not for younger children, physical classes should at least be started for adolescent students, as most of them have been vaccinated by now. Moreover, these children are in classes 10 and 12, so they also need to prepare for their board exams which are approaching in a month,” said Manoj Kataria, founder of Gautam Budh Nagar Parents Welfare Society.
Dharmveer Singh, the district inspector of schools, said the administration is awaiting an update on the reopening of schools from the state.
“The last order said that physical classes will remain closed till February 6. We are hoping an update on this order will be issued soon,” said Singh.
Medical experts, meanwhile, said that schools should be reopened and should embrace the “new normal” with strict implementation of Covid protocols.
“With vaccines for teenagers available and the government considering immunising children in the 12-15 age group as well, schools should be reopened with strict implementation of Covid protocols. Moreover, as soon as vaccination coverage increases, schools need not be shut down if Covid cases increase again. Schools need to strengthen their medical facilities, such as keeping emergency services on standby, keeping antigen test kits and ensuring that children who display symptoms are not allowed to attend school until their symptoms subside,” said Dr DK Gupta, chairman, Felix Hospital, Noida.