As the Delhi government has shut down schools for a week in the wake of rising air pollution in Delhi, let's have a look at how these measures to save kids from the adverse effects of air pollution have costed them their education.
From 2017 to 2021, schools of Delhi NCR have remained shut for around 27 days, mostly in the month of November each year, due to uncontrollable air quality.
2021 - After the Supreme Court intervened on the status of Delhi pollution (like every year), the environment minister of Delhi, Gopal Rai said that the Delhi government will submit a proposal for the same. In the emergency meeting afterward, it was decided that schools will remain closed for 7 days from Monday onwards.
For the first time, offices have been advised to shut down and the employees to work from home.
2020 - As the schools were already functioning remotely, it was not possible in concept to shut schools down. However, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) air quality data showed that the monthly average air quality index (AQI) in November 2020 was 327.9, as compared to 312.2 in November 2019. Schools therefore should have been likely to shut down had Covid-19 lockdowns been lifted.
2019 - In the first week of November, all government and private schools till Noida and Greater Noida were closed for 5 days. "In January the same year, the winter breaks of schools were extended from January 7th to January 15th (8 days)considering the spike in AQI index," said Mukul Sharma, who was then a school student in Delhi.
2018 - Schools were closed for 3 days in the first week of November. Some even voluntarily[y started closing themselves, some extended holidays. They also started distributing masks to the students.
2017 - Schools were closed for 3 days in the first week of November that year. On some days, Pm2.5 AQI used to touch 999.
This makes a total of at least 26 days when kids of Delhi NCR needed to miss their schools due to the condition of pollution in Delhi. It was observed that these school shutdowns were observed around Diwali(which is coupled by parali/stubble burning) season and in early January. Not just in these 5 years but Delhi schools have been seeing shutdowns for a much a long time now
So far, apart from the cities around Delhi NCR, Beijing and some Nepal cities are the only ones in the world where air pollution levels have put people in their homes by government orders.