Updated: October 3, 2021 10:56:14 am
With BMC releasing guidelines, schools in Mumbai operating classes VIII to XII are gearing up to reopen from Monday. However, the decision to reopen schools has received mixed responses from both teachers and parents.
Many schools said that parents are still in the ‘wait and watch’ mode and attendance of students will only increase in the coming months, as the vaccination coverage among teachers and non-teaching staff rises and Covid-19 cases come down further.
There are 2,553 private and municipal-run schools in Mumbai, which will reopen for in-person classes for 5.13 lakh students from October 4.
Jose Kurian, Regional Director of D A V Public Schools, Western Region Zone-II, said, “Around 40 per cent of parents have given their consent to send their children for in-person classes. We will follow a hybrid model, where teachers would also conduct online classes. There is trepidation among parents and initially, we might not see good attendance, but I am confident that in a month or two, students coming for in-person classes will increase.”
The BMC has issued a nine-point standard operation procedure for reopening schools. It has said that 100 per cent attendance of students is not mandatory and parents’ consent is necessary for children to attend school. Also, all teaching and non-teaching staffers should be vaccinated, else 48 hours prior to attending school, they should undergo RT-PCR test for Covid-19.
Ambarsing Magar, Principal of S G Barve Nagar municipal school in Ghatkopar, said: “After the announcement, the first thing we did was hold meetings with 150 students’ parents in batches, to clear their doubts and take their suggestions. All parents are in favour of sending students for in-person classes and gave in-principal nod.”
“We have conducted fogging and sanitisation of the entire school premises. The school building is a four-storey structure, each floor has been assigned to a different class. In addition, staggered timings will be followed to avoid crowding. We will only conduct Class X sessions daily, for classes VIII and IX, we will conduct in-person classes on alternate days. To ease out the transition, online classes will also continue.”
Most private schools in the city have decided to initially continue online classes while conducting in-person interactive sessions between teachers and students or query/problem-solving sessions.
Teachers have said that many students, following year-long virtual learning, have lost the skill to write. According to a recent UNICEF survey conducted in India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, a substantial proportion of students and their parents have reported that children have learned significantly less during this time when compared to the pre-pandemic levels. In India, 80 per cent of children aged 14-18 years reported lower levels of learning than when they were physically at school. In a meeting on Thursday, Mumbai International School Association has stated that initially, in-person classes will mean interaction to lend emotional support to students and ease them into physical classes.
School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad held a meeting on Saturday with senior education department officials. In a series of tweets, she instructed officials to personally visit schools and monitor the reopening. “For a smooth transition to physical classes, effective coordination with 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,” she tweeted.
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