Although schools are set to reopen on Monday, corporators have raised objections to the move and criticized the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) for trying to “jeopardize the life of teachers and students”.
BJP corporator Seema Savale, a former standing committee chairperson, wrote to PCMC commissioner Shravan Hardikar, saying: “When vaccine distribution is round the corner, what is the need to start the schools and jeopardize the life of teachers and students? The PCMC could have waited till the month end and started the schools in February.”
Savale objected the idea of reopening schools during the winter. “Most schools are run in the morning hours. Students and teachers have to set out from home as early as 6am. Besides, children are crammed in school vehicles. In chilly conditions, there is a possibility of them catching cold which in the time of corona could prove dangerous to their health. The PCMC has not issued any guidelines for schools to start around 9 or 10 am,” she told The Indian Express.
Stating that the PCMC should be held responsible if Covid-19 cases start rising again, Savale added: “The BMC and the Thane civic bodies have postponed reopening of schools. The PCMC could have easily done that. I don’t understand when the civic administration has so far done a good job, why does it want to spoil its record when cases are decreasing?”
Another corporator, Aasha Shendge, said: “The PCMC will have to closely monitor the functioning of schools and ensure students and teachers get quick medical attention, if needed. This will put additional pressure on the already stressed civic machinery.”
Hardikar said, “We are starting the civic schools that have been closed for nine months and couldn’t even hold online classes.”
As for private schools, Hardikar, added: “They will have to take parents’ consent and conduct RT-PCR tests of teachers. Only then they can reopen. I don’t think it’s immediately possible.”
The PCMC commissioner said they will observe the situation for a week before starting a review.
On whether his administration has directed schools to start late in the morning, Hardikar said: “We have not given any directions. The schools will have to take their calls.”
Mrudula Mahajan, principal of Dr DY Patil Public School, Pimpri, said: “We will not start on Monday. It will take two or three days’ time for us to reopen the school after the teachers undergo Covid-19 tests.”
Mahajan added that they are considering starting schools from 9 or 10 am in view of the cold and the pandemic. “The schools will function for four hours. One bench will be allotted to one student to ensure social distancing,” she said.
In total, there are 282 schools in Pimpri-Chinchwad.