Schools and colleges will continue to remain closed in the national capital and the issue will be taken up in the next meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA), officials said on Thursday.

During the meeting, the Delhi government, for its part recommended reopening of schools saying it was necessary to prevent further damage to the social and economic well-being of children as the COVID-19 situation in the capital has improved.

“The issue of reopening of schools will be taken up in the next meeting of DDMA,” a senior official said.

Asserting that online education can never replace classroom studies, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the government had closed schools when it was not safe for children, but “excessive caution” was harming them.

A delegation of parents led by Chandrakant Lahariya, an epidemiologist and public policy specialist, had earlier met Sisodia and submitted a memorandum signed by over 1,600 parents demanding that the schools be reopened.

Though the schools were briefly reopened, they were shut again on December 28 last year in view of the third wave of COVID-19 driven by the Omicron variant.

“Today’s decision is deeply disappointing. The DDMA chairperson (lieutenant governor) and members should publicly disclose the reasons for keeping schools closed but allowing everything else, particularly when every expert body has recommended it,” said Tanya Agarwal, a lawyer who has been vocal about the reopening of schools.

Alka Kapur, principal, Modern Public School, said, “Eighty five percent of the students are vaccinated and the drive to vaccinate children of other age groups is scheduled to start in April. With adequate precautions, I don’t think there should be a problem if we go ahead and open the schools now.

“There is a huge disparity between classroom learning and online classes. Education is not just about gathering information but also about interactivity, social interactions and hands-on learning; something only a classroom setup can provide. Besides, this prolonged use of online education might have a detrimental impact on students in the long run because of lack of social and student- teacher interaction…it can cause behavioural changes and learning anxiety,” she added.



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