All schools in Delhi will remain shut till October 31 because of the coronavirus outbreak, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said Sunday afternoon. The Delhi government had earlier ordered schools in the national capital to close till October 5, but allowed online classes - which have become the norm in recent weeks and months with the need for social distancing - to continue.
"All schools in Delhi will remain closed till October 31 due to Corona. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that as a parent, he understands the seriousness of the situation. At this time it will not be appropriate to take any risk regarding the health of children," Mr Sisodia tweeted.
Earlier this week centre, in its announcement for "Unlock 5", or the fifth phase of easing of Covid restrictions, allowed state and union territory governments to decide on reopening schools, colleges and other educational institutions in a graded manner after October 15.
"The decision shall be taken in consultation with the (management of the) respective school/institution, based on their assessment of the situation," the Home Ministry said, adding, however, that online and distance learning was the preferred mode of teaching at this time.
"Where schools are conducting online classes, and some students prefer to attend online classes rather than physically attend school, they may be permitted to do so," the centre, said, adding, "Students may attend schools/institutions only with the written consent of parents."
The centre said that governments opting to restart schools must ensure attendance is not enforced and that it depends on parental consent. State and UT governments were asked to make their own SoPs (standard operating protocols) for use for schools.
Educational institutions across the country were closed in March after the nationwide coronavirus lockdown. There have been concerns about restarting schools in the middle of the outbreak, given that those below the age of 10 are considered particularly vulnerable to the infection.
Although several parts of the country and economy have been slowly reopened since May, schools and other educational institutions remain, for the most part, shuttered, with online classes and distance learning favoured where possible.
At the same time, though, recognising some of the issues faced by students, last month the centre allowed students from Class 9 to 12 to visit their schools (so long as these are outside containment zones) to clarify doubts and recieve guidance from teachers,
Students visiting schools for such purposes must, the centre, said have written permission from their parents and can only do so in shifts on certain days of the week. In conjunction with this order, schools were allowed to recall 50 per cent of teaching and non-teaching staff.
Delhi, which faced a deeply worrying spike in Covid cases a few weeks ago that propelled it to second on the list of worst-affected states in the country, still has nearly three lakh confirmed cases. Of these over 5,400 are deaths linked to the virus and around 25,000 are active cases.
Across India over 75,000 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, with 940 deaths linked to the virus. The total number of cases has crossed 65 lakh.