A full 18 months after remaining shut during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, a majority of the schools in Maharashtra – barring the primary sections – reopened on Monday.
Schoolbells started ringing at the appointed morning hour urging students to hurry for classes, while in many schools, teachers and non-teaching staff welcomed the pupils with roses, chocolates, or sweetmeats to mark the special day.
Enthusiastic students turned out in their crisp uniforms, lugging their schoolbags, in singles, double or in groups of friends, and waited patiently at the gates for their temperature checks and hand sanitisation, before proceeding to the classrooms.
School Education Minister, Prof Varsha Gaikwad visited a few schools in Sion-Dharavi and interacted with the students in their classrooms, counselling to take all cares and return to the school routines as in the pre-pandemic era.
“A new day has come, a new journey begins, step out into the light and step inside the classroom. Welcome!” she said.
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar also visited a couple of schools, spoke with the students, and staff and directed all protocols be followed plus all amenities like drinking water, clean toilets, fumigated classes, be available to the children.
Following a government decision, all schools from Class 5-12 in the rural areas and from Class 8-12 in urban areas have thrown the doors open for students from Monday.
However, some like the Gyan Ganga International School in Pune, shut the gates on many of the students ostensibly since they had not paid their fees for the previous year, sparking protests from parents and political parties.
In several districts, some government and semi-private schools, students attended their first day in darkness as power supply was snapped off allegedly due to non-payment of old bills.
Students and parents were harried in some urban centres like Mumbai, Thane and Pune, as they had to make own commuting arrangements as school buses did not resume services.