Most parents in Delhi are not in favour of reopening schools and the government will consider the move only once coronavirus cases are under control, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Thursday, as the city announced tough new restrictions to tackle a massive spike in infections.
"Every parent wants the best for their child and is very concerned for their child. They do not want schools opened currently. They don't care if a few months are wasted," Mr Kejriwal told NDTV in an interview.
"Across the world, wherever schools were opened experimentally, coronavirus spread among children. We cannot think of opening schools till COVID-19 is under control," he said.
Holding out hope for schools to reopen eventually, Mr Kejriwal said, "Online education for classes may be possible, but going to school physically for education in form of interaction, sports, activities and labs cannot be substituted. So, that will have to return someday."
Delhi has been among the worst-hit cities in India as the country's daily coronavirus caseload has doubled in 10 days, with a record 2 lakh new infections logged Thursday amid shortages of vaccines, treatments and hospital beds.
Having let its guard down with mass religious festivals, political rallies and crowds at cricket matches, India is experiencing a vicious second wave, recording almost two million fresh infections this month alone.
This week, it overtook Brazil to become the country with the second-highest number of cases worldwide, after the United States.
Delhi, which added a whopping 17,000 cases a day ago, announced on Thursday that it will close auditoriums, restaurants, malls, gyms and spas on weekdays and the city will be under a lockdown this weekend.
Last week, the government had asked all schools and colleges to be shut down again. While most of the classes were already suspended in Delhi but students from Class 9 through 12 were attending school if permitted by their parents because of their board exams.
On Wednesday, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which governs thousands of schools across the country, cancelled the Class 10 exams and pushed back the ones for Class 12.
Schools across the country were closed in March last year to contain the spread of COVID-19 ahead of a nationwide lockdown.
Several states started reopening the schools partially from October last year, but physical classes are again being suspended in view of the massive rise in coronavirus cases.