On Friday, 17 December, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR and adjoining areas allowed state governments of NCR and GNCTD to reopen schools in a phased manner.
Following this, the Directorate of Education (DoE), Delhi released a circular stating that physical classes will resume for Class VI onwards on Saturday, 18 December.
The governments were advised by the commission to take immediate decision for the resumption of physical classes for Class VI onwards, colleges, educational institutions, skill development, training institutes, and libraries. The commission also asked the governments to take a call on the resumption of students up till Class V from 27 December.
In its statement, the DoE said that following the permission from the commission, all government, aided, unaided, recognised, NDMC, MCDs, and Delhi Cantonment Board Schools will reopen from 18 December for Class VI onwards. All the heads of schools were directed to disseminate this information among students, staff members, School Management Committee (SMC) members, and parents.
After the Supreme Court slammed the Delhi government for reopening schools despite the pollution on 2 December, the commission had directed that all schools, colleges, and educational institutes in NCR would remain shut from 3 December.
In the direction, the CAQM listed the following arguments for opening schools:
Children are out of school for about two years leading to frustration
among children with serious adverse effect on their studies;
Large number of students are not able to get the facility of online
education because of connectivity issues;
As per the academic programme, schools are required to impart
education to children for about 220 days annually;
Not opening schools are hampering physical and mental health as
well as emotional growth of children;
Learning is far beyond books and child's holistic development can
happen only by physical schooling;
Most students and parents have been approaching school authorities to reopen schools.
In the circular, the commission directed the following: “A phased re-opening approach shall be followed in respect of schools, colleges, and educational institutions in NCR.” It added, “state governments of NCR and GNCTD may consider and take immediate decision for resumption of physical classes in schools (standard VI onwards), colleges, educational institutions, skill development and training institutes, other training institutes and libraries”.
The direction further stated that the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) had informed them that hundreds of parents have written to DCPCR advocating for immediate opening of schools. It added that the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi had improved from ‘severe’ to ‘very poor’.