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After 18 Months, Schools Reopen Across Maharashtra for Physical Classes

It is not mandatory for students to attend physical classes. If they want to attend, they will have to submit consent letters from their parents.
Maharashtra's school education minister Varsha Gaikwad visits DS School Sion, Mumbai on October 4, 2021. Photo: Twitter@VarshaEGaikwad

Mumbai: Schools across Maharashtra have resumed physical sessions for classes 5 to 12 on Monday after being shut for over 18 months in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Up until now, schools had been conducting physical classes only in those areas which were reporting relatively fewer COVID-19 cases.

Last month, Maharashtra’s school education minister Varsha Gaikwad had announced that physical classes will resume in schools across the state. The government has also issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) which are to be diligently followed by all the schools.

On Monday morning, the minister tweeted saying, “Wishing all parents and students the very best as schools reopen across the state today. We hope you enjoy your first day back in a safe atmosphere.” She has also asked students to share their first day of school reopening.

Also read: Education in India Has Plunged into a Crisis. Just Reopening Schools Isn’t Enough.

According to the Maharashtra government, physical sessions have started for classes 5 to 12 in rural areas and for classes 8 to 12 in urban areas of the state.

However, the physical classes have not yet been resumed for classes 1 to 4 in rural areas and for classes 1 to 7 in urban areas.

The Maharashtra education department conducted a meeting on Sunday to take stock of the situation before resuming physical classes in schools.

“For a smooth transition to physical classes, effective coordination with the health department, local administration will have to be maintained. We are committed to providing a conducive atmosphere to students, many among whom will be returning to class after a year and a half,” Gaikwad had tweeted after the meeting.

As per SOPs issued by the state government for the reopening of schools, it is not mandatory for students to attend physical classes. If they want to attend, they will have to submit consent letters from their parents.

According to Livemint, Varsha Gaikwad also stated that, “The school education department has given the powers to implement the decision as per local conditions to district collectors. Every school will have to conduct a parent-teacher meeting and apprise parents about precautions as well as the immediate steps to be taken by the school administration.”

Gaikwad last month said that as per a survey conducted by the school education department, more than 70% parents favoured reopening of the schools.

In Maharashtra, physical classes in schools were stopped in March 2020, after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state government in July this year allowed schools to restart physical classes in the rural areas where COVID-19 prevalence was negligible. The decision mainly benefited the state’s Vidarbha region, but schools in major cities like Mumbai and Pune remained closed.

The latest decision was taken after consulting health officials as well as the state government’s COVID-19 task force, Gaikwad earlier said.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra on Sunday reported 2,692 new coronavirus positive cases and 41 fatalities while 2,716 patients were discharged, the state health department said. Mumbai reported 573 COVID-19 cases and three deaths during the day, taking the tally of infections to 7,44,389 and the number of fatalities to 16,125, the department said.

(With inputs from PTI)

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