Air Purifiers, Jaggery, No Outdoor Activities – Plans to save Delhi School Children from Pollution
Awadhesh Kumar Jha, principal of SV Coed Vidyalaya School in Rohini, said his school distributed Indian gooseberries (amla) to the 3,500 students of the Delhi government school. “Amla is said to build immunity, so I have been distributing it among my students for the past few years and this year, too, my plan of action will remain the same,” he said.
As a government school cannot afford air purifiers, Jha has adopted natural ways to purify the classroom air. Every year, he gets indoor plants for all the classrooms.
Schools have also started encouraging students to wear face masks always. “We encourage students to wear masks and ensure no pollution is created on the campus through dust or smoke,” said Shalini Nambiar, director-principal of Seth Anandram Jaipuria School in Ghaziabad.
Some schools have discontinued outdoor activities for children. “Be it morning prayers, the games period or other activities, we have halted every outdoor activity,” said Sapna Charha, headmistress of Modern Public School, Shalimar Bagh, New Delhi.
Sudha Acharya, chief of the National Progress Schools’ Conference and principal of ITL Public School at Dwarka in Delhi, told indianexpress.com that N95 masks had been made compulsory for students and staff. “We provide masks to students or staff members who forget or lose their masks, but we have encouraged everyone to get their own masks regularly,” she said. The school has also started putting in classrooms neem diffusers, which she believes act as good air purifiers.
Asked if purifiers, diffusers or masks added to the school’s expenses, Acharya said schools were ready to meet them for the sake of their students’ health. “The expenses have increased since the pandemic, but we cannot charge parents as it is our duty. Also, many parents have not been able to even give full fees. So asking for an additional amount will not sit well with them,” she explained.
Even though some students and parents have complained about schools carrying on with in-person classes, authorities are hesitant about shutting schools yet again.
“How many times are we going to close schools? If we close schools now, it will have a negative impact on students as they have been tossed between online and offline classes for over two years now. And this not only affects students, but will also negatively impact all the support staff of schools, such as bus drivers and daily-wage labourers,” said Ashok Agarwal, national chief of the All India Parents Association.
The majority of parents, said Sudha Acharya, have requested schools not to shift to online classes. “We are closely monitoring the situation and we will take a call depending on the situation we see on Monday. Parents have contacted us saying the air at their home and school is the same. Working parents will have the most difficult time if we stop offline classes. So, for now, we are sticking to diffusers, masks and purifiers,” she said.
Acharya said school authorities were planning to change the academic calendar. “This happens every November but we cannot keep confusing children this way. To avoid disruption of their calendar and studies, I am thinking of shifting December vacations to November from next year,” she said.