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Maharashtra approves offline operations of schools for all classes

🔴 The state school education department had sent this proposal to the Chief Minister Office on Wednesday which has been approved.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: January 21, 2022 5:10:56 am
Schools across Maharashtra were asked to remain closed for offline operation until February 15, as per the Covid restrictions issued on January 8.

SCHOOLS IN Mumbai will reopen from Monday for all classes, including the pre-primary sections. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) showed the greenlight to all city schools after the state government on Thursday approved offline operations of schools across Maharashtra, with permission from the local administration.

“All schools in Mumbai (Class 1 to Class 12) shall open from Monday, including pre-primary section,” said I S Chahal, Municipal Commissioner. The BMC categorically mentions inclusion of pre-primary section in the guidelines issued late Thursday evening. It also specifies that online mode of learning has to continue for children whose parents have not given consent for offline classes. It asks all schools to connect with the nearest health facility of their choice to get medical services in case of need. Specifically addressing its own Mumbai Public School, the BMC guideline stated that if any of them are being used as isolation or vaccination centre; those arrangements should be shifted to other places and sanitisation should be done on the premises. It also directs teachers on Covid duty in isolation centres and railway stations to resume their duties, adding that vaccination of eligible students from schools should be completed as per the plan.

BMC schools will be reopening for offline classes after a long gap. In fact, during the pandemic, this is the first time that pre-primary sections have been given the permission to resume offline operations.

On Wednesday, state school education department had submitted a proposal to start offline sessions of schools for all classes including pre-primary. Consent from parents will still be mandatory and no school can force any student to attend offline class.

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Schools originally resumed offline operations for all classes in the state from December 15. Most schools took Christmas break from December 23 to January 2. When schools resumed on January 3, BMC issued a notification in the evening asking all schools to go back to online mode due to an increasing number of Covid infections. According to that BMC order, schools in Mumbai were to remain closed for offline functioning until January 31. However, on January 8, the state government issued fresh Covid restrictions and shut all schools across the state until February 15.

Meanwhile, schools have welcomed the move. “There’s a complete upheaval in education due to the Covid-19 and we are facing turbulence with the dip and surge in the cases each month. Now, if the schools are to begin, we need to monitor the situation closely for a while, keeping in mind the safety of the students. Our management is taking stock of the situation and will take the final decision for our 60+ branches across the country,” said Kavita Chatterjee, principal, Orchids – The International School, Kurla, Mumbai.

Jyotsna Mayadas, principal of EuroSchool Thane, said, “We look forward to welcoming our students with all the preparedness and safety measures. We have even appointed a special Covid task force in the school.”

Educationists and parents have also welcomed the decision. Educationist Vasant Kalpande said, “All across the world, schools have started regular functioning. Even in Maharashtra, in the latest Covid restrictions, all other establishments were open, though with restrictions; yet schools were kept closed. Online platforms can be a tool used to make education more effective in today’s time but they cannot be a substitute to regular schools. It is good that the schools are finally allowed to restart offline sessions, including the pre-primary section.”

“Even now, the Government Resolution (GR) issued in this regard suggests that the final decision will be of the local administration and many are either to take the decision or have kept it on hold for a few more days. It is interesting to know that when it is about closing of schools, the state government takes a blanket decision and when it is about reopening, the final decision has to be taken by local administration,” said a senior teacher from a suburban school requesting anonymity.

It is a major victory for parents of children of pre-primary sections who have been struggling to include this section in school reopening orders for some time. A Maharashtra Parents Association 2021 was formed by parents with similar opinions in order to pressure the government for the same. “This particular section has been closed for two years as it was never included in any reopening guideline before. We are grateful that the government has acknowledged it,” shared Gayatri Sabharwal, a parent.

While schools are asked to ensure that all teaching and non-teaching staff are vaccinated, they are also directed to encourage vaccination of children eligible for jabs. Having a health clinic on school campus, ensuring physical distancing in classes as well as on campus, mandatory use of face-masks and frequent washing or sanitizing of hands the Standard Operating Procedures remain the same for school reopening. Schools are also encouraged to educate teachers on identifying children having mental health issues and their resolution.

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