Barely two days before schools in the city were to open for the first time in this academic year, on November 23, the civic bodies of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad have decided to postpone the reopening.
While Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol announced that all public and private schools in the city will remain shut till December 13, PCMC Commissioner Shravan Hardikar said all schools in civic limits will remain shut till November 30.
Around 5 pm on Saturday, Mohol tweeted, “Schools in Pune city will remain shut. All schools in Pune Municipal Corporation jurisdiction will remain shut till December 13. The decision has been taken after consulting with parents and keeping in mind the Covid-19 situation.”
On Friday, Maharashtra state school Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad had announced that local officials — such as municipal commissioners, district collectors, block development officers in Zilla Parishads and education officers — will have to discuss the situation in their respective areas and reopen schools accordingly.
“While schools were allowed to start classes for students of Class IX to XII, with the students physically present, the decision is being reviewed as there has been a surge in cases of Covid-19 in the last few days. It has been decided that schools in Pune will not open till December 13 and a further decision will be taken after reviewing the situation later,” said the mayor.
He added that the civic body had made all necessary preparations to restart its schools to ensure there was no spread of viral infection. The schools were asked to disinfect their premises, conduct thermal screening of students, check their oxygen levels via oximeters and make it mandatory for teachers to get Covid-19 tests done.
PMC ward medical officers were asked to check if each school was following all the guidelines, before giving it permission to restart classroom teaching.
Mohol said there was considerable reluctance among parents about sending their children back to schools, and only 10 per cent of them had agreed to do so.
Meanwhile, Hardikar said the situation in Pimpri-Chinchwad will be reviewed before November 30 to take a decision on reopening schools. “Schools will remain shut till November 30. The preparation towards opening of schools will continue,, which would include Covid-19 tests of teaching and non-teaching staff, taking consent from parents and preparing school infrastructure for social distancing, etc,” said Hardikar.
Schools on city outskirts, rest of Pune district to open
On Saturday, an online meeting was conducted by Zilla Parishad Education Officer Ganpat More, which was attended by 568 school principals of ZP schools in the district. The review meeting noted the concerns of principals and also took stock of the situation, while confirming that schools in rest of Pune district will open from November 23.
“In a few schools, only half the staff has undergone a Covid test, so staff strength is less. In areas where the student population is higher, we have asked them to utilise primary schools classrooms. Not all schools may open simultaneously, but wherever precautionary measures are completed, classes will resume from Monday. It remains to be seen though how many parents agree to send their children to school,” said More.
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