As Covid-19 wanes, Maha schools to reopen from Monday (Ld)

For the fourth time in two years of the Covid pandemic, all schools in Maharashtra are set to reopen for physical classes from January 24, just two days ahead of the Republic Day celebrations, officials said here on Thursday.

Mumbai Municipal Commissioner I.S. Chahal said that simultaneously all schools, even in the country’s commercial capital, shall resume physical classes from next Monday.

It may be recalled that the offline classes in the state were suspended in December 2021 – barring the crucial Class X and Class XII for board exams students – after the third wave of Covid-19 complicated by Omicron gripped most districts, particularly Mumbai and Pune.

Following a review of the Covid status, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray gave the green signal for the proposal to reopen the schools from next Monday with full Covid protocols and SOPs, said School Education Minister Prof Varsha Gaikwad.

“Schools located in areas where Coronavirus cases are fewer can restart physical classes for pre-primary and Std 1 to Std 12. We are committed to the safe resumption of schools in the state,” said Pro. Gaikwad.

She emphasised that in this fourth phase of school reopening plans, all must compulsorily adhere to the Covid protocols, and consent of parents would be essential.

“I reiterate, improving learning outcomes in children through continued education in a safe environment is our goal. I wish to thank our schools and teachers for continuously ensuring a safe environment for our students,” the minister added.

She urged parents not to send their children to school if they are unwell and school management must ensure isolation facilities in case any student displays symptoms.

Besides wearing face-masks at all times, only one student would be allowed per bench and vaccination for the older students would be further ramped up, said Prof Gaikwad.

The move comes after many children issued direct appeals on social media to CM Thackeray and other officials on their desire to return to school besides a continuous dialogue between the government, the paediatric task force and education experts.

The government decision has been welcomed by the students, the parents and the teaching community as classes have been virtually out of bounds for nearly 18 months in the past almost two years of the pandemic.

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