NCEE recommends that blanket school closures not be an immediate response to the air pollution crisis in Delhi.

The Delhi government had closed primary schools last week, based on a recommendation from the NCPCR, owing to the air pollution crisis in the city. As the air quality has improved, schools have been re-opened from today.

While the concern about the health and well-being of children is valid, the quick response of school closure appears to not consider critical factors such as aggravating the learning loss from pandemic caused earlier school closures, the loss of children’s daily nutrition on stopping of the mid-day meal, and the loss of the safe school space, especially to children from socioeconomically marginalized communities.

The government has now stated that schools will reopen due to improvement in air quality, however, proper deliberation regarding the consequences of such closures must be ensured in future. Read the NCEE’s statement on the school closures urging the government to pro-actively identify education emergency recovery measures and mechanisms that safeguard the the interests of children

School closure should not be a quick reaction to any sudden disaster or crisis. Disaster response and recovery is more effective and least harmful, when it can be much more local and nuanced; and reflect deliberation, informed choice and participation of multiple stakeholders. We strongly urge the Delhi Government and the NCPCR to consider the same.

Appropriate guidelines should be provided to schools to help them take adequate precautions against air pollution. These can range from encouraging students, teachers and additional staff to wear masks at all times, limiting the amount of outdoor activity as per the air quality, to training the staff on identifying and treating initial symptoms of discomfort, if any, etc.

If the nomenclature ‘school management committee’ has to have any meaning, they should have a role to play in this decision. The decision needs to be taken considering the education needs of children, especially those from socioeconomically marginalized groups.

Quick action to close schools can result in irreversible damage to our children’s future. The NCEE urges deliberation, debate, nuancing and decentralizing decison-making.

— National Coalition on the Education Emergency (NCEE)
The NCEE is  group of individuals and organisations that have come together to work on issues relating to the impact on the pandemic on school education in India. The NCEE working groups produce research studies,  curricular resources, guidelines for school opening to support governments, teachers, parents and communities to address the Education Emergency. |

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