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Delhi-NCR pollution crisis

Delhi: Schools reschedule December break due to air pollution, now set for Nov 9-18

November 9, 2023

Due to the severe air pollution in the national capital, the December winter break for all schools has been rescheduled, now set from November 9 to 18, according to a circular from the Delhi Directorate of Education released on Wednesday.

The circular indicated that any further changes in the winter break schedule would be communicated later. Initially, holidays were declared from November 3 to November 10 due to the poor air quality.

Considering the implementation of GRAP-IV measures due to the severe air quality and the absence of foreseeable improvement in weather conditions, the circular mentioned the preponement of the winter break for the 2023-24 session to allow complete closure of schools, ensuring students and teachers stay at home.

The school principal of ITL Public School, Sudha Acharya, expressed concerns over disrupted school activities and event postponements due to the sudden schedule change. She highlighted the challenges faced by the school due to government directives, altering test schedules and postponing the annual function.

Acharya urged the authorities to find a long-term solution to the pollution problem and discussed plans to rework the school calendar for the upcoming year, avoiding scheduling events in November.

Sant Ram from the Government School Teachers Association mentioned that although the order to shut schools is favorable for students’ health, it poses challenges for their academic studies. He noted that this decision may burden teachers in meeting the syllabus requirements within a shortened period.

The severe air quality persisted in Delhi and surrounding areas, attributed in part to paddy straw burning in neighboring states. The air quality index stood at 421, deteriorating from 395 the previous day.

The concentration of PM2.5, a hazardous particulate matter, significantly exceeded safe limits, posing health risks. The deteriorating air quality was not limited to Delhi but also reported in neighboring cities such as Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Noida, Greater Noida, and Faridabad.

Stubble burning in states like Punjab and Haryana accounted for a significant portion of air pollution, reaching 37% on Tuesday and likely to remain at 33% on Wednesday, as per data from the Decision Support System.

Also read: Safeguarding children against toxic air pollution

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