Updated: January 25, 2022 6:25:12 am
THE FIRST day of the reopening of schools in Mumbai drew mixed response with 44 per cent attendance of students, as per data compiled by the education department of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Coproration (BMC).
While all civic body- and government-run schools reopened for children, some city schools still need more days to prepare.
Out of a total of 4,043 schools in the city, 3,850 reopened on Monday. There are a total of 16,35,370 students in these schools from classes 1 to 12.
Out of these, only 7,20,092 attended offline classes on Monday. The data was collated by the BMC education department and office of Deputy Director of Education (DyDE) where the former is the nodal body for primary education and the latter, for secondary and higher secondary education.
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While the response on the first day was below 50 per cent, schools and teachers are hopeful the numbers will increase gradually as offline learning continues. They felt parents are still taking stock of the situation before sending children to school. “We believe that more students will start coming after Wednesday as some people have also gone out of town,” said Rajendra Pradhan, Trustee President of D S High School in Sion.
Jaywant Kulkarni, senior teacher from a Kurla school, said, “Reopening of schools has broken the complacent approach that some students had developed in online classes. Some who had started thinking that there will be no exam are now going to take studies seriously. Now that the schools have begun, they know the exams will be offline.” This has also brought relief to students appearing for board exams this year.
Some private schools are going to take a few more days to reopen for offline classes. They are also factoring in the weather conditions. Prachi Ranadive, Principal of Shishuvan school, said, “Due to a dip in mercury, there are many cases of cold and cough so we are treading cautiously.”
Amid all this, nothing matched the levels of excitement at pre-primary schools. “My daughter is in Junior KG. Since the time her school admission has been finalised, it has been an online affair. The excitement was high today as she finally got to go to school,” said Moneshi Shah whose daughter goes to Oberoi International School. Adding how the school has taken utmost care of all safety provisions; Moneshi said, “Parent have been waiting for this day as young kids have suffered a major loss in their growth years. All the children were excited to finally get to see the school.”
As pre-primary sections of the schools opened their gates for the first time since the pandemic began, they were thorough with planning. The focus was to help children ease into offline school. In many pre-primary schools, it was a day of fun activities such as drawings, origami, and singing. The Early Childhood Association and Association of Primary Education and Research (ECA-APER) prepared a set of guidelines for schools and parents, teachers to ensure smooth return of children, especially their mental well-being.
Apart from directing schools and parents to maintain Covid appropriate behaviour, the guidelines also instruct teachers to be patient in class as children are likely to get anxious in class. President of the Association, Swati Popat, said, “Children were asked to draw on the first day of school. We observed that none of their drawings showed Covid. For most of them, it was about meeting friends and playing with them, seeing the school building.”
School originally resumed offline classes in Maharashtra from December 15. Before this, in Mumbai only classes 8 to 12 were allowed to conduct offline sessions. Most schools then took Christmas break from December 23 to January 2. When they resumed on January 3, BMC issued a notification asking them to go back to online functioning amid rising Covid cases in the city. According to this BMC order, Mumbai schools were to remain closed for offline functioning until January 31.
However, with the number of Covid cases ebbing in parts of the state, on January 20, the government approved reopening of schools with permission from local administration.
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