For the first time in nearly 19 months, 14-year-old Kainat Habeebi attended her physical education classes at a school in India’s capital New Delhi.
The students did not exchange hugs and did not shake hands for fear of Covid-19.
“We are excited to be back at school. “Reunification is truly a blessing,” said Habeebi.
The New Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) announced last week that schools will reopen to all classes from November 1 under certain conditions, including providing no more than 50 percent attendance, and not forcing parents to send their children to school.
Schools have also been run to ensure full vaccination of their staff.
All schools in Delhi were closed in March last year following the coronavirus outbreak. They reopened to the upper classes in January this year before closing again in April after a brutal second wave of Covid-19 devastated India.
After a prolonged closure, the upper class schools reopened on September 1st. But there was no official approval for the opening of schools for younger children.
Habeebi and many other students said they did not like online learning and would prefer physical classes while maintaining COVID-19 protocols.
“During physical education, all students remain very attentive and focused on their lessons, but this does not happen with online classes,” Habeebi said.
Shabreen, another student, said she was happy to be back at school because it was “too difficult” for her to sit in front of a computer screen or cell phone for hours.
“Sometimes we missed lessons because of a poor internet connection,” she said.
Garima Sharma, who teaches math and science at a school in Delhi, said teaching during the pandemic had been a “difficult task”.
“You can’t teach math to anyone by talking. “You have to write step by step to make them understand,” she said. “Studying online is really very messy. You will never know what the student is doing, he may even be sleeping. ”
Sharma said that while she is happy about the reopening of her school, she is also scared.
“In general, I’m excited to see the children go back to school, because they’ve been home for a long time. But I have a mixed feeling. I’m afraid because COVID is like an acid, as we say in chemistry. “It’s very corrosive,” she said.
“We are taking all necessary measures. We are making only one student sit on a bench and not two or more as we did before the pandemic. We have also divided sections into sub-sections, so that fewer students sit in a certain class. ”
The decision to reopen schools for younger children in Delhi was taken amid a significant drop in COVID cases in the capital, which recorded only four virus-related deaths in October, the lowest since March 2020 .
On Monday, India’s health ministry reported 12,830 new cases in the last 24 hours. In total, India has reported more than 30 million COVID infections and 458,000 deaths.
A vaccination attempt that began in January reached a milestone last month when one billion doses of the vaccine were administered. India has fully vaccinated more than 291 million people, while another 707 million have received the first dose.
The government aims to fully vaccinate about one billion people by the end of the year. Vaccination for children is also likely to start soon after a government panel recommended the Covaxin vaccine at home for children aged 2-18.
A Delhi government spokesman said on condition of anonymity that the decision to reopen the schools was taken in view of the significant reduction in COVID-19 cases.
“The government is vigilant. “Also, everyone from teachers to non-teachers are vaccinated,” he said.
“If a school is caught breaking the rules, strict action will be taken,” he added, including the “immediate closure” of a school if a virus infection is detected there.
Although the children are excited to return to their schools, some concerned parents said they do not want to send their children to school yet.
Drisha Adhikari is a fourth grade student at a private school in Delhi. On Monday, she took her lessons online.
“Physical classes are better because we can meet friends and teachers, and they are more fun than online classes,” said Drisha.
But her mother Anamika Adhikari said she does not want to send her daughter to school because children in India have not been vaccinated yet.
“Although I want her to go back to school as soon as possible, I’m also worried. “Even if the schools are fully open, I will not send it first because I want to see how it goes.”
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