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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Pune schools upset over delay in reopening decision, seek more clarity

Last Friday, School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad had announced the decision to reopen schools, stating that in rural areas, classes will resume for students of classes 5 to 12 and in urban areas, for classes 8 to 12.

Written by Alifiya Khan | Pune |
Updated: October 1, 2021 10:51:05 am
Most city school principals said they have already started circulating consent forms among parents, anticipating last-minute announcements.

EVEN AS the School Education Department has issued instructions to reopen physical classes in schools from October 4 in a phased manner across the state, the indecision by local authorities on the same has city school managements in limbo.

Last Friday, School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad had announced the decision to reopen schools, stating that in rural areas, classes will resume for students of classes 5 to 12 and in urban areas, for classes 8 to 12. However, local authorities like Zilla Parishad and local municipal corporations have been empowered to decide on reopening dates and other conditions, depending on the Covid-19 situation.

Even though the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) announced its decision to reopen schools on October 4, there is no announcement yet from the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) . The delay in taking a decision on the matter has upset school managements.

Rajendra Singh, working president of Independent English School Association (IESA) Maharashtra said that the organisation had written to PMC Commissioner Vikram Kumar a week ago. “We had requested a meeting with all stakeholders as soon as the School Education Department announced reopening. We had highlighted the learning loss that students are facing due to school closure and we had also said that we are ready to work with the authorities to ensure the safe reopening of schools as per all SOPs. We had suggested a few additional safety measures but we were never called for a discussion. Till today, there is no clarity on whether schools in the city will reopen or not, which is unfortunate since schools are reopening across the state,” he said.

Most city school principals said they have already started circulating consent forms among parents, anticipating last-minute announcements.

“Last time, they didn’t give much notice, and they asked us to prepare for reopening and then suddenly Pune Municipal withdrew the decision. Schools do not work arbitrarily; we have fixed academic calendars. We need to plan things. Hundreds of students, parents, staff, teachers on campus means that much planning to do. So, we have started our preparations by circulating consent forms to see how many parents are willing to send kids to school if classes resume. Also, mid-term exams are approaching, teachers can’t conduct online exams and attend physical classes. Hence even if they give instructions to reopen, I am sure all schools will need time to work out their calendars and logistics,” said the principal of a school.

Meanwhile, the School Education Department has organised a webinar on October 1 on reopening schools across Maharashtra in a safe manner. It will be addressed by School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad, Minister of State (School Education) Bachhu Kadu, Additional Chief Secretary Vandana Krishna, School Education Commissioner Vishal Solanki, members of Covid-19 taskforce, and senior educationists, among others. The programme will be telecast live by the SCERT Maharashtra.

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