NEW DELHI: Travelling to schools once physical classes resume may be a challenge for students as not all schools are prepared to resume their bus services yet, according to school principals.
Following a marked improvement in the COVID-19 situation in the national capital, the Delhi government on Friday announced that schools for classes 9 to 12, colleges and coaching institutions will reopen from September 1.
"As of now, the school is not providing school buses or any transport facility. Students who are willing to join the school will have to come on their own. It is not mandatory for students to come to school. Those who wish to continue their studies online will be free to do so," Alka Kapur, Principal, Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh told PTI.
"School will provide transportation facilities once the government issues the guidelines or the COVID situation is under control. It will take us some time to adjust to the new post-Covid realities," she added.
The Delhi government has clarified that no student will be forced to attend physical classes and the consent of parents will be mandatory.
"It is not certain right now how many parents will give consent for students to attend classes physically. We will reach out to parents in the coming week and if we get a good number of students we will speak to the bus operators and make arrangements.
"Since almost an year, the arrangements with transport operators have been suspended and no transport fees is being charged from students," said the principal of a private school, who did not wish to be identified.
Another school principal said, "We will wait for the SOPs issued by the government to see what are they recommending about travel in school buses. We are definitely not prepared to begin bus service from September 1, but we will take a call in the coming weeks after evaluating all factors".
Separate entry and exit to avoid crowding, calling 50 per cent students of classroom seating capacity, increased facility for cleaning and sanitisation, availability of quarantine room and random collection of samples of students and staff on regular basis, no sharing of lunch and stationary items by students are among the SOPs recommended by the DDMA committee.
The DDMA panel has not made any recommendations for the SOPs for travel by students in school buses.
Schools in the national capital were ordered shut last year in March ahead of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
While several states started partial reopening of schools from October last year, the Delhi government allowed reopening in January only for classes 9 to 12.
However, schools were again completely shut in April following an aggressive second wave of COVID-19. Majority schools in the national capital had not resumed their bus services when schools reopened briefly earlier this year.