The Delhi government has allowed all schools outside COVID-19 containment zones to reopen for Classes 10 and 12 from January 18 in view of board exams, officials of the directorate of education said on Wednesday.
However, it made clear that physical attendance is not compulsory and students will attend schools only with consent of parents.
Schools are reopening in the national capital after 10 months, after being shut last year to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, and they have been instructed by the directorate of education (DoE) to follow all COVID-19 guidelines when classroom studies resume on Monday.
"Keeping in view CBSE board exams, permission is being granted for schools to reopen for Classes 10 and 12 from January 18 for practicals, project work and counselling. Students will be called with parent's consent and will not be bound to come," Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, tweeted.
The Union education ministry has already announced that board exams for Classes 10 and 12 will be conducted from May 4 to June 10, even though the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is yet to release an examination date-sheet.
Over three lakh students have registered from the Delhi region for the Class 10 CBSE board exam while over 2.5 lakh candidates have registered for the Class 12 exam.
The Delhi government had suggested that schools conducted pre-board exams for Class 12 from March 20 to April 15 and Class 10 pre-board exams from April 1 to April 15.
Only schools outside containment zones will be allowed to reopen, the DoE officials said, adding that students, teachers and staffers living in these zones will not be allowed to attend school.
"In order to conduct activities pertaining to pre-board preparations and practical work, the head of government, aided and unaided recognised schools may call students of Classes 10 and 12 only to school with effect from January 18, 2021," a senior DoE official said.
"However, a child should be called to school only with the consent of parents and following standard operating procedures," he said.
The official said that records of children coming to school will be maintained and the same should not be used for attendance purposes as "sending a child to school is completely optional for parents".
"Schools should provide proper guidance to students and required support for examination-related activities. Though most of the syllabus has been covered in online classes, the same may be revised and doubts of students be cleared by teachers. This will impact positively on well being of students," he said.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, schools switched to virtual classrooms to ensure there is no disruption in education of children, and many continue to do so.
The DoE has also directed schools not to hold assemblies and physical outdoor activities. Principals have been asked to guide children not to share books and stationary items, the officials said.
Though schools in Delhi will open for the first time since March last year, several states had partially reopened schools after October.
The DoE has also asked schools to provide emotional and trauma support to students and teachers upon their return to the campus.
"On campus orientation of students and teachers to be conducted to give emotional and trauma support for their readiness with new normal of stringent physical distancing, face mask guidelines and hygiene guidelines. Handouts detailing guidelines for COVID-19-appropriate behaviour should be given to students or parents," it said
COVID-19 protocols include social distancing, staggered timings and hygiene, the DoE said.
The action committee of unaided private schools (ACUPS), an umbrella organisation of over 1,500 private schools in Delhi, welcomed the decision to resume classroom studies for Classes 10 and 12.
"We welcome the decision of the Delhi government to reopen schools for Classes 10 and 12 from January 18. This will help schools to bridge the learning gap and students to cope up with learning outcomes," ACUPS general secretary Bharat Arora said.