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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Maharashtra: 2,400 parents sign petition to reopen schools for all children

In an open letter addressed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the parents highlighted problems related to online learning and the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of the children.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
Updated: November 23, 2021 7:46:11 am
The parents’ group has also begun an online campaign, ‘Open Mumbai Schools Now’, across social media platforms.

A group of parents from the city wrote to the state government to reopen schools for all children above two years of age, as the state and the city have recorded a steady drop in daily Covid-19 cases in the weeks after Diwali.

In an open letter addressed to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the parents highlighted problems related to online learning and the impact the pandemic has had on the mental health of the children.

“Sir, our children have fallen behind in learning due to online schooling. They are not retaining information, finding it difficult to focus and are suffering acutely. It is affecting their mental health. Depression and anxiety are on the rise. Children in their formative years are barely reading, and their math skills have fallen behind,” read the letter.

The petition was signed by more than 2,400 individuals in the last two days.

The parents’ group has also begun an online campaign, ‘Open Mumbai Schools Now’, across social media platforms.

Following the steady decline in Covid cases, the state school education and health departments approved the resumption of physical classes for classes 5-7 in urban areas and classes 1-4 in rural areas across the state after a meeting with the paediatric Covid task force.

However, a final decision in the matter is pending. The proposal is expected to be tabled before the chief minister, who is recuperating in the hospital after a surgery. Schools across the state and in Mumbai had resumed offline classes for students of classes 8 to 12 on October 4 this year.

The decision on opening up the remaining classes was to be taken after the festival season, given the predictions of a third wave. However, parents have questioned the rationale behind allowing children to enter malls, attend parties, travel, but not allow them to attend schools. In rural Maharashtra, physical schools are permitted from Class 5 to 12, with parental consent.

In their petition, the parents have demanded all classes from nursery onwards be reopened for in-person attendance.

Gayatri Sabharwal, a parent of two pre-primary and primary school-going children and one of the petitioners, said, “We (parents) cannot understand the state government’s logic. If children can be everywhere from malls to playgrounds, why can’t they attend schools? Most people in Mumbai have small homes, and they have no option but to confine the kids inside these flats. The kids are mentally drained and they are not interested to study sitting in front of devices inside their houses. Also, children have natural immunity. Even if they contract the virus, they have a mild infection.”

The petition says that people have to learn to live as normally as possible as the pandemic may not end. Educators are also urging the state government to reopen all the classes.

In nearly two weeks since the Diwali festivities, the daily Covid cases in the city has registered a steady drop. Mumbai has been recording less than 300 cases daily since November 11. On November 15, the city recorded only 182 infections.

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