Schools in Delhi moved to another academic session from Thursday, but campuses are still without the fragrance of new books and the myriad shades of new uniforms as students remain closed in view of the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Schools here closed in March last year, just days ahead of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of novel coronavirus. Classes moved online last April and they remain so this April as well.
While the academic session at all government schools and few private schools began on Thursday, few schools have planned the resumption of classes from Monday, April 5. "We were hopeful that at least the new academic session will begin offline and it will not be a story of students not getting to visit school, be with their classmates and be involved in activities that are not possible online. But with the cases rising again, that looks like a bleak possibility now," a Tagore International School teacher said, requesting anonymity.
The Directorate of Education (DoE) had last month issued a circular asking all government schools to begin the new academic session from April 1 for students up to Class 9 online. It is yet to issue any such notification for private schools. Private schools say their is no clarity whether students of class 9 to 12 should be called to campuses, or the earlier directives allowing the same were only for students who are appearing for board exams next month.
"There are no clear guidelines yet whether academic session for senior classes has to be online or offline," said Jyoti Arora, the principal of Mount Abu Public School. When contacted, DoE officials said that for now the new academic session will have online classes for all grades. The earlier directive for classes 9 to 12 was to facilitate students to complete their practicals and prepare for board exams in May.
Private schools including Springdales School, Delhi Public Schools, Tagore International, The Indian School, Birla Vidya Niketan, Bal Bharti Public School, among others, are continuing with online sessions for all classes. While schools were closed in all states from last April to September, few states started with partial reopening from October onwards. However, some of them have again started closing schools briefly in view of the surge in cases.
In Delhi, the government had allowed schools to reopen for students in classes 9 to 12 for practical works and remedial lessons, from January 18 and February 5. Delhi reported 1,819 coronavirus cases on Wednesday with a positivity rate of 2.71 percent, while 11 more people succumbed to COVID-19. The caseload in Delhi on January 1 was over 6.25 lakh and the total fatalities were 10,557.
The number of daily cases had started to come down in February. On February 26, the month's highest daily count of 256 cases was recorded. However, the daily cases began to rise again in March and have been steadily increasing.