Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Wednesday said that the decision to reopen schools in the national Capital could not be delayed as it would have hurt the students’ education, reported NDTV.

Delhi schools reopened for Classes 9 to 12 on Wednesday. Schools in the national Capital will reopen for Classes 6 to 8 from September 8.

“It may be called a risky decision [to reopen schools] but the students are already at risk by not being able to access adequate resources they need,” Sisodia told NDTV. “Now that Delhi is seeing 30-35 Covid-19 cases every day, we can afford to go ahead with the move. If this decision was delayed any further, an entire generation would suffer a knowledge gap.”

Schools across the country were shut since March 2020 when the pandemic struck India and classes have been held online in some places. Many studies undertaken to study the impact of the pandemic reveal that children from poorer sections of the society have been further marginalised due to lack of digital devices and difficulty in comprehending their lessons via online classes.

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Sisodia told NDTV that 70% of the parents wanted the schools to open. “While experts told us that we could go ahead and reopen primary schools too, because younger children are at less risk, we thought of starting with Classes 9 to 12,” the deputy chief minister said.

He said: “Even as we follow social distancing and other norms, we have told parents too to make students understand the importance of following Covid-19 norms.”

Sisodia told NDTV that while some states have witnessed an increase in the positivity rate among children after they returned to school but the Delhi government was on alert for this possibility.

“As far as going back on the decision is concerned, we can decide to shut schools again in half an hour,” he said. “It doesn’t require as much preparation as opening the schools.”

The deputy chief minister also noted that the pandemic has left a negative impact on many children. For this, Sisodia said that the school officials have been instructed to hold conversations with students to ensure the wellbeing of their mental health.

“The baggage has to be unloaded undoubtedly,” he said. “It’s a part of their grooming. We have ensured that in every school, students are given a platform to talk it out.”

Besides Delhi, schools opened partially or fully in six states – Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya and Gujarat – from Wednesday, according to the Hindustan Times.

Telangana too was going to resume classes from Wednesday. However, the Telangana High Court on Tuesday stayed the state government’s decision for a week, observing that physical attendance was not mandatory.

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association supported the decision to open schools. reported ANI.

“Considering possibility of spread, the risk is quite negligible at this moment unless something very catastrophic events taking place,” the body’s president Dr JA Jayalal said. “It’s the right time when [the] government should come forward and take a calculated risk and open the schools in an appropriate way.”