Amid surge in Covid cases, Delhi issues new Covid advisory to schools
New Delhi, Apr 14: The Delhi government has issued a fresh advisory for schools in the national capital, directing them to close the entire premises or specific wings temporarily if any student or staff tests positive for COVID-19.
The Directorate of Education (DoE) also said that students and staff must wear masks and maintain social distancing to the extent possible. The advisory, dated April 13, came amid reports of a few students testing positive for COVID-19 across the national capital and NCR.
"If any COVID case is noticed or reported to the school authority the same must be intimated to the Directorate of Education immediately and the concerned wing of the school or the school as a whole as the case may be, must be closed down for time being," the advisory said.
Among other measures listed in the advisory include wearing of masks by students, teachers and other staff of schools, maintenance of social distancing to the possible extent. It also advised regular washing of hands and use of sanitisers and creating awareness about the prevention of Covid among students, teachers and other supporting staff and parents visiting the school.
Noting a "slight" rise in COVID-19 cases, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said earlier in the day that he has directed the education department to issue guidelines on Friday in this regard. However, both Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Sisodia maintained the government is closely monitoring the situation, and asked people not to panic as there is no rise in hospitalisation.
"Covid cases have slightly increased but there is no rise in hospitalisation, so we need not worry. There is no need to panic but (we have to) stay alert. We have to learn to live with Covid. We are constantly monitoring the situation," Sisodia told reporters. He also said he had got reports from a few schools in the past few days where parents have informed about their child testing positive.
"The education department will tomorrow issue guidelines to schools in this regard," he had said. Delhi reported 325 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, while the positivity rate stood at 2.39 per cent, according to data shared by the city's health department.
Reports of infections from schools have sparked concerns, weeks after they opened for completely offline classes following a two-year gap due to the pandemic. Kalkaji MLA and senior AAP leader Atishi said, "There are reports of a child and a teacher testing positive for Covid. Other students of the class have been sent home. We are closely tracking the situation."
However, she did not specify the name of the school where cases have been reported. The fresh infections in the privately-run schools in the national capital have been reported close on the heels of schools in adjoining Noida and Ghaziabad reporting new cases.
At least five students and staff of a top private school in South Delhi's Vasant Kunj have tested COVID positive in the last one week, sparking concerns among parents about their wards' safety as well as about the possible closure of schools yet again.
While a section of parents claimed that the school did not inform other parents about the cases, and that children continued to go to class with COVID-19 positive students, the school categorically denied the charge. "As students across Delhi-NCR turn Covid positive, schools are struggling with protocols. My child's school has at least eight kids, two staff members positive. But no proper information is given to parents. The school is functioning normally including even those classes with positive cases," said a parent.
A school management representative said, "The parents of students of each class where a student had tested positive were informed on the class WhatsApp group to take all COVID-19 precautions." Schools in Delhi have four days holidays starting Thursday on account of Ambedkar Jayanti, Good Friday followed by a weekend.
The Delhi BJP demanded that in view of the rise in cases, the government should once again make masks mandatory at public places including public transport, schools, colleges and cinema halls. Government officials also said that in view of the uptick in COVID cases, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will hold a meeting on April 20, and may consider bringing back the mask mandate. PTI