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Should Delhi Schools be Shut Amid Severe Pollution? Parents, Teachers Give Mixed Reaction

Should Delhi Schools be Shut Amid Severe Pollution? Parents, Teachers Give Mixed Reaction

Government to shut Delhi Schools? With severely rising air pollution in the national capital, people have started demanding closure of schools in Delhi/NCR. Arvind Kejriwal government has received several requests on shutting down schools in the past few days. NCPCR Chairperson Priyank Kanoongo has urged the Delhi government to consider shutting schools in the interest of the children. Meanwhile, the Delhi BJP has also demanded closing of schools for physical classes and conducting online teaching to protect children from air pollution. To understand the ground reality, Shiksha.com got in touch with several schools, parents and students. Let us take a look their opinion and suggestions.

Opinion Divide among Parents

Rising AQI in the national capital has become a matter of concern for many parents. Stressed about the health and safety of their children, many parents are in favour of the closure of schools. “My son leaves at around 6:30 am in morning and the level of smog that is present during that time scares me. I want him to go to school but not at the cost of his health. There are PT classes, morning assemblies, etc. that make children stay outside for a long period of time. All of this can severely affect their health. There is a need to shut schools considering the AQI,” said Shruti Sharma, parent of Class 7 student.

“With the AQI level hitting a very severe range, the kids are facing difficulty to breath. My daughter even complained of burning sensations in her eyes and was coughing too. The schools should close at least for a week until the situation improves,” said Anupama Mehra, parent of a 5-year-old.

Meanwhile, Jasleen Kaur, mother of Gurbir Singh Taneja, Summer Fields school, Kailash colony believes that taking proper precaution is the right way to combat air pollution and shutting down schools is not the option.

“Schools should take proper measures like installing air purifiers, cancelling outdoor activities and morning assemblies, etc. Students should be taught ways to curb pollution like not burn crackers etc. Closing schools should not be an option as this makes them look forward to such menace in a positive outlook in order to stay home. Children have lost the social touch in their lives. Lockdown has disconnected them from the outside world. Another closure may or may not be beneficial amid rising pollution but it would definitely further increase the academic gap.”

Academic gap still recovering in the post-pandemic era: Schools

Opinion of teachers on another school closure is a bit different to what parents feel. Talking about the effect of the pandemic lockdown on students and academics, Ajinder Kaur, Senior In-charge, of DAV Public School (Pushpanjali Enclave), said, “Given the air quality of Delhi I do agree that the health of children with pre-existing respiratory conditions has worsened. The problem is that pollution levels are at their peak in the morning when children leave for their school but closing schools at this time is not at all advisable. After two years of the pandemic, students are still not settled in school  More serious than the learning gap is the fact that they have forgotten how to behave in formal settings. It’s already a big challenge for teachers to ensure balanced behavior. In such a scenario rather than closing schools we should go in for a change in timings ie students can be called a little late and all outdoor activities can be stopped for the time being.I strongly feel that physical  health is important  but not at the cost of their mental well-being and closing schools at this time will definitely  affect their mental health,”

I worry about children’s health but I am completely against another closure in schools said, Vibha Singh, Principal, EDMC Pratibha Co.ed Vidyalay (Mahila Colony) and Senior Vice President (Municipal Corporation Teachers Association). Singh added, “Children are safer in schools than their homes. If schools will be closed, they would run the playgrounds and will be exposed to the polluted air and hence closing of schools would not be as effective as it may sound. Schools must take precautions such as shutting down outdoor activities and sports in open areas. Pollution is there but the fact is that EDMC school students come from a very lower economic background. Shutting schools for them will a cut-off for them from studies as well due to lack of resources.”

“In lockdown as well, apart from East MCD schools, students of other Zones could not properly attend online classes. While we’re making efforts to conduct collective classes via Google Meet, share recorded videos of classes, other schools had suspended online classes due to the unavailability of resources among students. Another shutdown of schools would further increase the academic gap let alone save them from pollution,” Singh further added.

“We don’t think school should be closed. The rising level of pollution is a larger problem that poses health threat to anyone in the Delhi/NCR region irrespective of location. Closing schools won’t bring pollution down but might only aggravate the learning loss of students who would miss out on classes. It would affect the academic progress, social-emotional development and skill development among students. It may even cause mental health issues. The way forward should be to come up with a sustainable solution that involves all stakeholders, from the government, communities to individuals. Schools can help reduce Particulate Matter 10 (PM10) by keeping the dust pollution on campus in check. We can keep the rooms well-ventilated, but the most important initiative would be creating awareness on the importance of cutting down pollution. It’s a societal problem and the solution has to be found collectively and collaboratively,” said Shalini Nambiar, Director Principal, Seth Anandram Jaipuria School, Ghaziabad. 

“The pollution level in Delhi/NCR is certainly at an alarming stage. But so far we have not received any such order from the government on the closure of the school. We are ready with the alternate arrangements to avoid academic loss. Whenever there will be a government order on the same we will take appropriate measures and close the school,” says Naman Jain, Director (Development), Silverline Prestige School, Ghaziabad.

Twitter flood with Shut Delhi Schools demands 

The 24-hour AQI of the city stood at 376 yesterday, improving from 424 on Tuesday. The AQI between 401 and 500 is categorized as severe, the worst band on the index. An AQI between zero and 50 is considered Good, 51 and 100 Satisfactory, 101 and 200 Moderate, 201 and 300 Poor, 301 and 400 Very poor. Following the AQI reaching the severe band, Twitter is now flooded with demands to close schools in Delhi/NCR

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