The Maharashtra education department will allow reopening of schools for classes 5 to 8 only after getting the approval of the state health department, School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said on Wednesday. The state government had last month empowered district collectors and local authorities to decide on reopening of schools, which have been shut since March this year due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown, for classes 9 to 12 based on the pandemic situation in their areas.
“The school education department will discuss the issue of reopening schools with the public health department. Once we get their approval, we will resume classes,” Gaikwad told reporters. Major cities in the state, including Mumbai, Mumbai suburbs, Thane, Pune and Nashik will be notified about reopening of schools only after consultation with the state public health ministry, she said.
“We are consulting parents and local officials in this regard. Local officials have also conducted a large number of RT-PCR tests on school teachers and non-teaching staff before reopening schools,” Gaikwad said. At least three lakh students from classes 9 to 12 have been attending schools in 25 districts of the state since November 23, the minister said, adding that the figure has increased to five lakh as per a review taken last week.
As of Tuesday, Maharashtra overall COVID-19 caseload stood at 18,59,367, including 47,827 fatalities.
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