Delhi school hallways, classrooms fill with chatter as students return after 17 months

School reopening: The Delhi government allowed school reopening in the state for Classes 9 to 12 from today; students are overjoyed.

Delhi school hallways, classrooms fill with chatter as students return after 17 months School reopening in Delhi
Press Trust of India | Sep 1, 2021 - 7:16 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: The corridors and staircases that had fallen silent after COVID-19 forced schools in the national capital to shut down in 2020 woke up to the familiar sound of footsteps and indistinct chatter over a year later as students returned to their classrooms on Wednesday.

After looking at their teachers and classmates on computer screens for 17-long-months during their virtual sessions, uniform-clad students of classes 9-12 were visibly overjoyed on their first day back to school — meeting their friends, running to classrooms, and attending classes. And while the familiarity of being back at school was reassuring, there was no denying that the experience of going to school amid COVID-19 was starkly different from the one during the pre-pandemic world.

Social distancing, wearing masks, thermal screening, and no exchange of stationery and lunches on school premises felt alien to many students. Ayushka Gupta, a student at a government school in Tilak Nagar was thankful for the Wednesday morning rains that made wearing masks through the school day a lot more bearable. "Since the weather was pleasant, we could wear masks and study. That was a blessing. Had the weather been hot and humid, wearing masks and concentrating in class would have been a challenge," she said.

Also Read | Delhi school reopening in pictures: How schools welcomed students after months

While most schools have reopened on Wednesday, some institutions in Delhi, however, chose to adopt a wait-and-watch approach and have decided to call children for physical classroom studies only after a few weeks. Classrooms in several schools had the list of Covid-appropriate behaviour written out on the blackboards.

Delhi school reopening

At the Government Boys Secondary School in Sunder Nagri, the list of instructions also included encouraging fellow classmates to return to school, continuing online classes post school hours, and sharing their experience of coming back to school. At the Mount Abu Public School in Rohini that welcomed back students of classes 10,11 and 12 on Wednesday, children were allowed to enter the premises post a thermal screening.

"Our staffers were there at the entrance with their umbrellas to oversee thermal scanning and sanitisation processes. We had prepared a special entrance gate for the open area between the main gate and reception to welcome students but it could not be placed since it was raining quite heavily in the morning. "The gate had been adorned with flowers and had the message written on it 'Welcome Back To School' and an inspirational quote but rain played spoilsport. We are looking to place it when we will be reopening for class 9 students," said school principal Jyoti Arora.

While the new regulations and restrictions appear to be disconcerting of the idea of school life that has been traditionally characterised with a sense of freedom and uninhabitedness, given the circumstances, most students were just relieved to resume classes face-to-face. Like Richa Rani of Government Girls Senior Secondary School in Vasundhara Enclave.

Also Read | Schools in Delhi reopen amid strict COVID-19 safety guidelines

A class 12 student, Richa faced a lot of network issues during her online classes, and is happy to get back to school. "One of the major challenges we faced during online classes was network issues. Due to bad signals, our time and energy went into getting connected with regular classes. But now that we are in school, we have a set routine. We have a proper mindset and can stay focused," she said.

Online vs offline classes

Richa's batchmate Ravina Kumari agreed that online and offline education experience was quite different, particularly for specific subjects. "I found it difficult to follow economics during online classes. Concepts are tricky and require analysis. But now that I'm back in school and have my teachers by my side to clear my doubts on the spot, I'm hopeful I can improve and perform well in the subject," she said, adding her school opened at 7:30 am and closed by noon.

For others, online classes after a point of time just felt "boring". "Attending offline classes becomes boring after a point of time and we tend to lose interest. "Now I'm back in class. It's exciting and I enjoyed learning with my classmates. In class, we have our teacher around us explaining the concepts in depth and clearing our doubts," she said.

For teachers too, reopening of school and physical classes felt like a reassuring return to normalcy. "We were completely ready to reopen our school. We have completely sanitised our school. All our staff have been vaccinated and students are also extremely happy to be back in school. "Now all their queries and doubts can be addressed promptly by teachers. Students were also missing schools. Third wave is a concern but we are hopeful if all precautions are being taken, we will be able to function smoothly," said Usha Rajput, Head of School, Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Vasundhara Enclave.

Also Read | Delhi government to give free education to students orphaned during pandemic: DoE

The Delhi government last week had allowed schools to reopen from September 1, citing a marked improvement in the Covid situation in the national capital.

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