The Delhi Disaster Management Authority on Friday announced that schools in the national Capital will open in a phased manner from September first week, the Hindustan Times reported. Classes 9 to 12 will start from September 1 and Classes 6 to 8 will start from September 8.

Delhi on Thursday recorded 45 Covid-19 cases and no deaths. On Wednesday, it had recorded 35 cases and one death. The positivity rate stood at 0.06%. The numbers have drastically decreased since the second wave had ravaged the city in April and May.

“About 70% of people wanted schools to reopen, according to a Delhi government survey,” Education Minister and Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, according to NDTV. “We are still working on the protocols. It will be a blended mode of online and in-person classes.”

He added: “Given that Covid cases have come down and the positivity rate is just 0.1%, we feel we can open schools now. Almost 98% of staff in Delhi schools have had at least one dose.” Sisodia added that no child would be forced to attend school.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority had recommended the phased opening of schools on Wednesday, Mint reported. The panel, while submitting its report to the government, also said that parents should be allowed to choose online classes for their children.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that the government wanted to reopen the schools but it could not risk children’s health, according to the Hindustan Times. “The experience seen in other states [after reopening of schools] has been mixed,” he said. “We are closely monitoring the situation. We are in favour of reopening of schools at the earliest, but we cannot take risks with health of the children.”

Delhi had shut schools in March owing to the massive surge in Covid-19 cases after reopening them in February for students of classes 9-12.

On August 10, the Delhi government’s education department had allowed schools to partially open for students from Classes 10 to 12. Teachers had to be fully vaccinated and students were required to get explicit consent from parents. Students were barred from sharing books or stationery items with each other.

Other states

Schools are also slated to reopen in Tamil Nadu, Haryana and Gujarat in the first week of September. Only certain classes will operate at 50% capacity.

Karnataka reopened school for classes 9 to 12 from August 23 in districts with less than 2% positivity rate, The Indian Express reported. Teachers who have taken at least one vaccine dose have been allowed to attend.

Himachal Pradesh, which had reopened schools on August 2, had to reverse its decision within 10 days after several students tested positive for Covid-19, the Hindustan Times reported.

Meanwhile, Mumbai’s municipal body sealed the St Joseph’s boarding school and orphanage on Thursday after 16 children and six adults there tested positive for Covid-19.

The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunization’s Working Group Chief Dr NK Arora on Wednesday had said that it was time for schools to reopen in a phased manner. He said teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and other family members of school students should get vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Centre on Wednesday asked the states to vaccinate all school teachers against Covid-19 on priority before September 5.

India on Friday recorded 44,658 new coronavirus cases, pushing the cumulative count of infections in the country to 3,26,03,188 since the pandemic first broke out in January last year. The number of daily cases was 3.26 % lower than Thursday’s count of 46,164.