Schools reopen in New Delhi as coronavirus cases dip across India

More than four million children are enrolled in public and private schools in the capital

Children on their way to school in New Delhi on Monday as schools reopened after months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. AFP
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Tens of thousands of pupils returned to schools in New Delhi on Monday after a gap of 19 months amid a drop in coronavirus cases in India.

Authorities last week asked schools to run classes but allowed children of parents who did not want to send them to schools to continue with online learning. All educational institutions were ordered shut in March last year.

More than four million pupils are enrolled in about 5,600 public and private schools in Delhi. While some schools have opened, several more are likely to reopen next week after the Diwali festive break.

Covid-19 rates are on the decline, with 12,500 cases across the country recorded on Monday by India's Health Ministry. New Delhi reported 45 cases and no deaths.

Pupils and their parents were seen rushing to schools early in the morning in public and private transport. Schools arranged health screenings, socially distanced seating arrangements and staggered lunch breaks.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to send the children back to school but we have to consider their academic welfare as well,” Sangeeta Sharma, a parent whose child studies in a private school in New Delhi, told The National.

A government-run school screened a student-centric Bollywood film to encourage its pupils.

All schools in the Indian capital have been running online classes after a nationwide lockdown forced them to close.

The government briefly reopened higher classes in January but closed them again as a deadly second wave swept the country in April and May this year.

Many parents are still concerned about sending their children to school. India has yet to immunise under-18s and people fear that the coronavirus rates could swell during the coming festive season.

The government was planning to start vaccinating children this month, having administered more than a billion doses to its adult population.

Big cities across India reopened schools and colleges in recent weeks as the country gradually returns to normal life.

Last week, Mumbai reopened educational institutes and allowed cinemas and theatres to function at full capacity after a 19-month hiatus.

Cinemas and other enclosed public spaces were shut in April when the second wave of the pandemic killed 11,000 people and infected more than 700,000 million.

But New Delhi has now allowed full-capacity seating in cinema halls, theatres and multiplexes, albeit with rules mandating masks, sanitising and social distancing.

It also doubled the number of guests allowed at weddings to 200.

Updated: November 01, 2021, 2:26 PM