5 steps to ease children’s return to school post-pandemic

Mumbai schools reopening deferred to December 15

November 30, 2021

Reopening of schools in Mumbai for classes I to VII has been postponed to December 15 from the earlier scheduled December 1. There have been rising concerns amongst parents too about their wards attending physical classrooms when news of the new COVID Omicron variant discovered in South Africa has triggered panic globally.

While Omicron cases have been reported across 12 countries worldwide, no such case has been reported in Mumbai or India thus far, Mumbai’s municipal body, the Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika’s (BMC) precautionary stance to defer school resumption is based on the fact that as many as 1000 travellers from South Africa have arrived into the city since November 10. The BMC is currently tracking these travellers and has made arrangements to test and quarantine them.   

A press note released by the BMC’s education department states, “Given Mumbai’s population and the high number of international travellers into the city, the health department, the state government and the BMC have decided to take preventive actions. Getting more information about the new variant and its impact will require time. Keeping in mind the safety and security of students, all schools within BMC limits will reopen on December 15 instead of December 1.”

Taking to social media platforms, Francis Joseph, Founder, Crimson Education welcomed BMC’s decision to postpone school reopening to December 15 saying, “Good decision to give some more time considering the recent developments. Let’s give that extra time to comfort the  anxieties among stakeholders and begin on 15 December with full flow.”  

Schools across Maharashtra were earlier scheduled to resume December 1 onwards. However, fears about the new variant are leading to several municipal corporations deferring the resumption of physical schools. Local administration in Pune and Nashik have asked schools to reopen December 15 and December 10 onwards respectively. In Aurangabad, the local administration has allowed schools in rural areas to reopen from December 1 onwards but will reportedly take a final call on reopening of schools in its urban localities after a meeting with local officials after December 5.

Keeping in mind the new variant, the state’s education minister, Varsha Gaikwad had released a new set of guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for schools on November 29.  As per the SOP, school authorities are to work in shifts or on alternate days to ensure only 15-20 students are present in the class at a time. Schools also have the responsibility of ensuring students maintain social distancing at all times. Masks are to be worn at all times and both teaching and non-teaching staff have to be 100 percent vaccinated. Schools have been asked to avoid biometric attendance systems as well as activities where children would gather in groups. Schools have been warned, in case more than five children in the same class and at the same school are found infected within a period of two weeks, the government would review the school’s COVID prevention action plan and act accordingly. 

Also read: Maharashtra releases guidelines ahead of reopening of schools

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