Maharashtra: Covid-19 task force not in favour of reopening schools until Diwali

Maharashtra: Covid-19 task force not in favour of reopening schools until Diwali

August 21, 2021

Following fears of a possible Covid-19 resurgence in the state, the Maharashtra government’s Covid-19 task force is of the view that schools in the state should remain shut until Diwali. The task force’ opinion was conveyed by the state’s deputy chief minister, Ajit Pawar on Friday. The minister attended a review meeting with the task force members in Pune. The government had announced (on August 10) the resumption of offline classes from August 17.

“The decision regarding the reopening of schools will be taken in consultation with the task force. We will go ahead (with the reopening of schools) when it tells us to do so. However, in the current situation the task force is of the opinion that schools should not be allowed before Diwali…the final decision will be taken by the chief minister in this regard,” said Pawar.  

The Maharashtra government had earlier decided to start physical classes in the state from August 17 onwards in areas where coronavirus cases are under control. It also constituted a task force headed by the collector or commissioner to monitor the resumption and safe operations of schools in the state. In rural areas classes V-XII were to have in-class schooling while urban areas were permitted to hold physical classes for grade VIII-XII only. The government also released the standard operating procedures (SOPs) which mandated vaccination for all staff and teachers attending schools. The SOP underlined compulsory parental approval for students attending physical classes.

However, earlier this week the state’s education minister, Varsha Gaikwad informed the government resolution regarding reopening of schools was put on hold due to doubts raised by the task force. The task force advised against resumption of offline classes in the absence of fully vaccinated students saying under-18 students who were not vaccinated could posed a major health risk to others.

Schools across the state have remained closed since March 2020. Parents and educationists have been demanding immediate opening of schools while taking adequate precautions. May experts have warned of severe loss of education amongst children not attending schools. A recent survey conducted by the State council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) showed 81 percent of the state’s parents wanting the schools to reopen at the earliest.

Also Read: School reopening status across India (August 2021)

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