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Maharashtra announces reopening of schools from October 4

A teacher takes online class for students in Dharavi. File   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

The Maharashtra government on Friday announced its decision to reopen schools in the State from October 4. The decision was taken after the SOPs (standard operating procedure) were cleared by the Chief Minister’s Office, the State’s Paediatric Task Force on COVID-19, and the Health Department, said School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad.

“We had issued directions to restart schools earlier. But there was then the fear of a third wave. The SOPs prepared by the Department were discussed in meetings with the task force along with experts in the field of education. We were all unanimous on resuming classes. But we decided to come out with more comprehensive SOPs for the safety of students,” Ms. Gaikwad said.

The Minister said that Classes 5 to 12 in rural areas, and Classes 8 to 12 in urban areas, will re-commence from October 4. The decision is not applicable to residential schools.

Ms. Gaikwad said that a survey by her Department had shown than more than 80% parents favoured reopening schools.

“The safety of our students is the priority. Based on that, we have issued guidelines under which parents’ approval is a must for students to join the classes in school. Neither attendance nor exams will be mandatory. If necessary, the option of calling students on alternate days can be tried. Sanitation and physical distancing should be maintained,” she said.

The State government’s additional SOPs included a health clinic in every school to check students’ temperatures; and aid from doctor parents, if available. Students are encouraged to walk to school. In the case of school buses, the precaution of one student per seat is to be followed. Teaching and non-teaching staff would constantly issue directions to wash hands. Homework is to be done online, and as far as possible, homework is to be avoided.

The SOPs have directed that there should be no outdoor games as of now. Special attention is to be given in case a student shows symptoms of fever, cold, cough, etc.

Ms. Gaikwad said that teachers are also being directed to keep look out for the students’ psychological condition as they have lived inside their homes for more than one-and-a-half years. “Let students get used to school instead of forcing them to study right away,” she said.

Schools have been advised to keep uniforms optional. Parents are also advised to “send students directly to the bathroom after coming home from school”.

Ms. Gaikwad said that vaccination of teaching as well as non-teaching staff is a priority. District Collectors in rural areas and Municipal Commissioners in Corporation areas must carefully look in to it, she said.

Religious sites on Oct. 7

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday announced the reopening of all religious places in the State from October 7, the first day of Navratri.

Mr. Thackeray said that even though the decision to open religious places has been taken, all COVID-19 related health safety norms must be followed.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 11:29:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/maharashtra-announces-reopening-of-schools-from-october-4/article36650241.ece

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