"Mumma, can I please go out and play?"
40-year-old Shilpi Batta has had to deal with this question from her 10-year-old twin daughters – Sohni and Suhani – for the past one week.
Batta, a teacher at Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, has not only cut the outdoor playtime of her children but also has to ensure that they, students of Class 6, attend online classes regularly.
Sohni and Suhani are among thousands of school children studying in private and government schools across Delhi-NCR whose schedules have been disturbed due to the rise in air pollution in the city.
"It is extremely difficult to manage children when schools are shut, even if online classes are scheduled. While we want to protect our kids and ensure they don't go out, this can't be a solution every year," Batta said.
In view of 'severe' levels of air pollution witnessed in the national capital over the last week, the Delhi government on Wednesday, 8 November, advanced winter break for all schools from 9 to 18 November.
The winter break for the session 2023-24, which is usually scheduled between December and January has now been advanced, the Directorate of Education (DoE) stated in an order accessed by The Quint.
The announcement comes nearly four days after the Delhi government asked all schools to remain shut until 10 November for all classes, except Class 11 and 12. But this is not just a 2023 occurrence.