New Delhi: The state governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh are still considering school closures until air quality improves, despite Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) being just one notch away from being in the ‘severe plus’ category and the Air Quality Commission too. Management (CAQM) has ordered strict measures under Phase 4 of the Phased Response Action Plan (Grap) in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) on Thursday.

For now, schools in Delhi have taken it upon themselves to limit outdoor physical activity and require children to wear N95 masks. Some institutions have also switched to online education.

Delhi’s AQI was 450 on Thursday.

The Gautam Budh Nagar administration in neighboring Noida has ordered online-only classes in all boards up to Class 8. It also called for schools to suspend private lessons for senior students and limit outside trips.

“All schools have been asked to remain closed until the eighth grade, but we are calling on schools to stop physical education classes for senior students as well. We have also arranged for more water spraying, closure of industries and halting of all construction activities,” Ritu Maheshwari, CEO of the Noida authority, who handles extra costs as community magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar, told a private media channel.

Meanwhile, Haryana has not decided whether to close schools in Gurugram and Faridabad.

Following a meeting with representatives of the pollution control board in Faridabad, Nishant Kumar Yadav, deputy commissioner in charge of Gurugram, said a decision on the schools would be taken on Friday. “We are aware of the rising pollution level and will implement the guidelines under section 4 of Grap after meeting the pollution control board and the Haryana chief minister on Friday,” he told private media.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Thursday said the state’s pollution control board will decide on the Stage 4 measures after a seminar in Faridabad. “We will implement the necessary guidelines in Gurugram and Faridabad districts,” he told private media.

Principal of ITL School, Sudha Acharya

The National Progressive Schools Conference (NPSC), which has more than 120 schools in Delhi, including Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Delhi Public Schools and Amity International School, is headed by Sudha Acharya, principal of ITL School, Dwarka. He announced that the school had stopped all outdoor and physical activities for students in recent weeks. “We don’t hold outdoor programs. All of the students’ physical activities were transferred to the indoor gymnasium. We ensure that students wear appropriate masks. We have advised them to wear N95 masks and not cotton masks,” Acharya told the private media channel.

He claimed that many parents were against closing schools because of the level of pollution. “Not every house has an air purifier. Air quality is poor almost everywhere, even in homes. With both parents working these days, they prefer children to continue to go to school, which is a much safer place,” he added.

Statement by Bharat Arora

In light of the high level of pollution, according to Bharat Arora, chairman of the Aided Private Schools Action Committee, a group of private schools, all outdoor and physical activities have been suspended at his institution.

Before taking a decision to close a school, Arora said parents should be consulted. “We need to find common ground as closure may not be the best solution for all concerned,” Arora told the private media channel.

Colder, heavier air tends to settle closer to the ground in the morning; in the evenings, the sun’s warmth helps trigger convection currents that lift trapped pollutants higher into the atmosphere.

Statement by Dr. Rakesh Bagdi

Pediatrician Dr Rakesh Bagdi at Delhi’s Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital told the private media channel, “The problem is that the level of pollution is at its peak in the morning when children have to go to school. We are already seeing a spike in babies whose pre-existing respiratory conditions have worsened.”

While most of the institutions said they were awaiting guidance from the Delhi government, they also said they would offer online courses even if schools were closed.

The main statement of the Sanskrit School

Principal of the Sanskriti School, Richa Sharma Agnihotri, announced that her institution would suspend all outdoor activities and had air purifiers in classrooms. The school called on children suffering from respiratory diseases to be extra cautious and attentive. “We are currently waiting for the decision of the Delhi government. Even if they decide to stop face-to-face classes, online classes will continue. It will not be difficult for us to switch to an online course within a day. Children’s health is the most important thing. At the same time, learning will not suffer,” Agnihotri told the private media channel.


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