Only 5 percent of the total enrolled students in Maharashtra attended schools and colleges on Monday, November 23, 2020, which were allowed to reopen for the first time after remaining shut for the last eight months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a top official said. The state education department had allowed schools to reopen for students of classes 9 to 12 with strict adherence to COVID-19 protocol. Attendance is, however, not mandatory.
Civic bodies like Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Panvel had directed that schools in these cities will remain closed until the end of this year due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases. “In terms of percentage, 35 percent of total schools and junior colleges reopened in the state on Monday for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak began in March this year,” said Commissioner of Education, Maharashtra, Vishal Solanki.
In absolute numbers, 9,127 schools and junior colleges out of the total 25,866 reopened during the day. “The total number of students (of classes 9 to 12 ) in the state is 59,27,456. Of them, 2,99,193 students or 5 percent attended schools and colleges in various districts today,” he said.
He added that 1,41,720 teachers and 44,313 non-teaching staff have been tested for COVID-19 in the state so far, out of whom 1,353 teachers and 290 non-teaching personnel have tested positive. Maharashtra has 2,75,470 teachers for classes 9 to 12.
In Pune district, 215 of over 1,200 schools and colleges in rural areas reopened and 9,431 of the 2.38 lakh registered students attended classes. Zilla Parishad Education Officer Ganpat More said parents were apprehensive about the health of their children as it was the first day and institutions in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad civic areas were yet to open.
“On arrival, all students were thermally screened, their oxygen levels were checked, and classrooms sanitized. We also took care of social distancing in seating arrangements” said Sopan Kanchan, secretary, Mahatma Gandhi Sarvoday Sangh Trust, which runs a school in Urali Kanchan.
A T Kalamkar, principal of V S Satav High School and Junior College in Wagholi area said 56 students, out of 350 from class 12, and 75 students, out of 650 from class 10, attended on Monday, adding that tests of all 95 teachers at his institution returned negative.
Payal Pawar, a student at SV Satav High School said she was excited to attend classes physically after eight months but her parents were apprehensive about her well-being, adding that measures taken by the school management were very reassuring.
Meanwhile, collector of Palghar district neighbouring Mumbai, Manik Gursal, said a decision had been taken to reopen schools for classes 9 and 10 at the earliest in villages that had no coronavirus positive cases or those where the population was higher than 5,000.
However, schools will not start in containment zones and areas which have witnessed a spike recently, said officials who attended a meeting chaired by Gursal on Monday. A separate decision would be taken about residential ashram schools etc, they said.
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