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Maharashtra minister announces plan for school reopening for older students, but parents wary of Covid risks

While Maharashtra's school Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad did specify that parent's consent is mandatory, many parents said they preferred the online education mode to classroom lectures due to the threat of Covid-19 infection.

Written by Alifiya Khan | Pune | Updated: November 7, 2020 12:32:39 pm
Maharashtra school reopen, Maharashtra Covid crisis, Varsha Gaekwad, Maharashtra classes, maharashtra physical classesMaharashtra's school Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad

Even as Maharashtra’s school Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said on Friday that the state is considering reopening schools after November 23 for students of Class IX to XII, most parents are wary of the risks involved in classes that require physical presence of students during a pandemic.

While the minister did specify that parent’s consent is mandatory, many parents said they preferred the online education mode to classroom lectures due to the threat of Covid-19 infection.

“Given a choice, I don’t want to send my son to school this year. He is in Class IX so his board exams are next year… I think he can still catch up. While there were initial hiccups, now the rhythm of online classes has set in. Besides, I choose his safety over marks,” said Sunita Gupta, a resident of Undri.

Scores of parents like Gupta, who heard Gaikwad’s announcement on Friday, said they were unwilling to take the risk.

“While we understand that this is a crucial year for our children and that’s why they have decided to hold classes from Class IX to XII, but is the risk to our children lesser than that to younger children, or are their lives not as precious? Once the vaccine comes in, it’s fine… but why now? The online classroom lectures are going just fine and so are coaching classes. In fact, now we can keep a tab on them, even I am keeping myself abreast of his syllabus and progress so I don’t see the need for classroom lectures, ” said Usha Vaidya, whose son Abir studies in Class X.

Another concern that parents have is the division of teaching staff between online and offline classes. “Currently, all teachers are engaged in online teaching. When they resume classroom teaching, how will they divide the manpower… because subject teachers are specialised. I think some challenge lies ahead for schools as they would have to offer both online and offline classroom lectures, because many parents will refuse to send their children to school, ” said Neelima Mukherjee, parent of a Class IX student.

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