Schools in Gurugram will resume offline classes from February 1 for students in Class 10 and above while adhering to Covid-19 protocols,said district education officials.
They added that only vaccinated students will be allowed to attend physical classes, the others can attend them online. Attending classes offline is optional and parents’ consent is mandatory, said officials.
On Tuesday, Haryana education minister Kanwar Pal had tweeted: “Haryana government has decided to open schools for classes 10th, 11th and 12th from February 1, 2022.”
On January 15, Haryana health minister Anil Vij announced on social media that unvaccinated children in the 15-18 age group will not be allowed to attend classes offline when schools reopen.
On Wednesday, he said that it is important for all children to get vaccinated to ensure protection from Covid. “We want all the students and staff vaccinated and safe. Vaccination is for their own protection and they should not delay the vaccination. All schools have set up camps; and vaccines are available at all centres and hospitals so parents must ensure their wards are vaccinated,” he said.
A senior education officer from the district said the government will fresh guidelines this week, and schools will have to follow all Covid-19 guidelines. If anyone violates the norms, strict action will be taken against them.
After the second Covid wave subsided in Haryana in September 2021, the government agreed to reopen schools in Gurugram. However, schools were closed again on November 14 due to the region’s deteriorating air quality. They were reopened on November 26 as pollution dissipated a bit, but were again shut on January 2, 2022, due to a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases, and are now supposed to reopen on February 1.
Government schools said they have not received any letter regarding the reopening and have only read the announcement on social media. However, they are prepared to reopen.
Sunil Kumar Sharma, the principal of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Jacobpura, said the school is prepared to resume classes and will follow safety measures and guidelines issued by the health department. The guidelines are still awaited.
“In the meantime, we will ensure social distancing and the use of sanitiser at school. We will not allow more than 50% of the students to attend classes and will ensure all of them are vaccinated,” he said.
Suman Sharma, principal, Government Model Senior Secondary School of sectors 4 and 7, said that they have not received any letter from the education department yet. “We will follow the department guidelines when they are issued and will reopen according to the directions. Ninety-nine per cent of our students has been vaccinated and 100% of our staff is vaccinated. Parents are willing to send their wards to school as their studies are suffering due to classes being confined to the online mode. For board preparation, students must attend physical classes to clear their doubts,” she said.
Anju Sharma, the principal of Government Senior Secondary School, Basai, said that 800 students in the 15-18 age group were vaccinated within a week in the first week of January. “We are prepared to reopen classes from February 1. We will provide students with masks at the gate in case they forget to bring them, and monitor their temperature before they enter the school premises.We will sanitise classrooms twice a day and keep sanitiser in each classroom,” she said.
Officials said students want to attend in-person classes as many of them, especially those in rural areas, face issues with online classes due to lack of access to technology. Several students also feel hey concentrate better during in-person classes.
Aanya Gunwal, a student of a private school, said that she was vaccinated with the first dose and is anxiously waiting for schools to reopen. “It’s been very difficult to attend online classes teachers are unable to focus on all the students and solving problems becomes an issue. There are several distractions as well,” she said.
Sandeep Kumar, the father of a 15- and 17-year-old, said his children’s studies have suffered a lot due to online classes. “Children play games and chat with their friends during online classes. There is no fear of teachers and moreover they are becoming lethargic at home. They are losing interest in studies ,” he said.
Meanwhile, private schools have set up vaccination camps for their students and are coordinating with parents to ensure students appearing for board exams do not miss important classes. They have not received an official notification on the reopening either.
Rashmi Malik, the principal of Salwan Public School, said that they have called teachers to school on Thursday to assess the status of their health. “As the infection has affected around 30% of our staff, we want to ensure everyone’s safety. We will reopen classes for students of Class 10 and above and call only half of them to school initially. Gradually, we will reopen for other classes to prepare students for final exams and we will follow Covid-19 protocols strictly,” she said.
Alka Singh, the principal of Blue Bells Model School, Sector 4, said that it is not compulsory for students to attend offline classes. “We will follow all protocols and we are not forcing students to attend school. We will sanitise the school twice a day and ensure our staff is administered their booster doses as well,” she said.