EVEN AS the number of schools that have reopened in the city is going up daily, just three days after announcing that offline lectures will start for undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students across colleges, Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) has rescinded the decision.
In a circular issued late on Thursday, the administration asked city colleges to get ready to reopen classrooms and make all arrangements as per norms of University Grants Commission (UGC). But it revoked the circular dated January 4 stating colleges will reopen on January 11. In its new circular, SPPU has asked colleges to wait for a new date.
At the same time, the PMC has recorded that 235 out of 529 schools in its jurisdiction reopened by Thursday; the number was just 44 on January 4.
As normalcy returns to school classrooms, university and college students are now facing uncertainty over the prospect of returning to campus.
“After issuing the circular regarding January 11, we realised that colleges needed time to prepare. Hence, we decided to give them that time. The new date will be communicated,” said Prof N S Umrani, Pro Vice- Chancellor of SPPU.
Sources at the university, however, said the reason for rescheduling was that the state government’s approval was not sought while announcing the date for the reopening of offline classes, especially at a time when the Disaster Management Act was in place and permission must be sought. Umrani said, “In the meanwhile, we will seek those approvals as well.”
As far as schools are concerned, numbers are showing an upward trend. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Jagtap said, “Overall, the attendance is around 25 per cent in private schools, whereas, in municipal schools, it is as high as 45 to 50 per cent. It has definitely increased over the past few days and we are expecting the numbers to go up as more consent forms from parents come in,” he said.
From 17 students on the first day of schools reopening to 106 students on Thursday alone, authorities have noticed an encouraging trend at Bibvewadi’s Vishwakarma Vidyalaya. Normalcy, since schools shut down due to Covid-19, is finally on the way as students return to classrooms.
Principal Sulabha Deshmukh said out of the total strength, one-third students had returned to campus and, while two-thirds were still away, it was only a matter of time when all came back. “Almost all parents who signed consent forms, their wards attended lectures. I think it is more of a wait-and-watch attitude, but as more and more students come in and tell their peers that all is well, others are gaining confidence,” she said.
Most principals said the attendance was showing an upward trend, albeit slowly, but there were signs that return to a more regular routine was not far away.
At Aundh DAV School, where the syllabus has already been completed through online lectures, students of Classes X and XII have returned to school for practical and prelim examinations. Principal C V Madhavi said the attendance was as high as nearly 80 per cent of the batch.
Jayshree Venkatraman, principal of SNBP School, said as compared to 12 students on the first day, the number had doubled in a couple of days.
“When people say why not continue online education, we need them to understand education is not just a transaction of information. Working with peers, comparing notes, studying together, competition is equally important. These things cannot be achieved in isolation. Also, those parents still not sending wards to school, when we asked them, we found their fear lay not in classrooms but safety of students during travel,” she said.
Manisha Rawal, whose son Ankur is a Class XII student, said her son was the only one from his “group” to resume classes. “Our kids are going to malls, coffee shops, supermarkets where the risk is higher. When we parents were discussing this on our common group, the others agreed that they don’t really have a problem with school because everything is sanitised there but our bus services have not resumed. Using public transport everyday is risky,” she said.
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