COVID-19 in Mumbai: Enforce that schools open to 'normalcy;' insists parents in letter to BMC Commissioner

Chaitali DharamshiUpdated: Thursday, January 27, 2022, 07:33 PM IST
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Students pray during their morning assembly at a school in Mumbai on January 24, 2022, after schools were reopened that were closed as a preventive measure to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. | AFP

A letter in regards to enforcing schools to open to normalcy has been written to BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, Maharashtra School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad, State Health Minister Rajesh Tope, Minister for Tourism, Environment, and Protocol Aditya Thackeray by the representatives from the Maharashtra English School Trustee Association (MESTA) and Parents Association of Mumbai.

The letter focuses on schools that do not adhere to true SOPs. They want to guarantee that schools open as normal and that the students return to routine. "As per the SOP guidelines, a lot of private schools are resisting opening up and making excuses behind SOPs of 50% seating, attendance, no co-curricular being followed and mainly 3-4 hours allowance," reads the letter.

The main issue is SOPs; parents want schools to open and operate for normal hours even if attendance is minimal, and they want 20-25 students in a classroom on separate seats. School buses must operate since schools are unwilling to do so due to irregular hours and the inability of parents to pick up and drop off students daily. Allowing normal activities excluding contact sports, as well as adhering to all of the guidelines set by the government for school reopening.

Anushka Kulkarni, a parent of two girls said, "Despite governments orders, some schools are not opening which is unacceptable, and some schools are only offering a few hours offline, citing administrative issues. This is not right. We also need buses and normal hours to start and normalcy to be the name of the game. We urge the BMC to enforce schools to open normally."

Another parent held a similar viewpoint "700 days later, 100% fees, although govt permits - there is no respite for the children. Most schools offer a couple of days offline for a few hours and some refuse to open given the SOP," said Sonali Patil, a parent of three children. "How will these children get justice. We want the govt and BMC to take serious action against the schools that do not open normally and also allow normal hours and school buses," she added.

Schools in Mumbai have reopened on January 24, a few have reopened today, and the others are planning to reopen on January 31. The letter also emphasizes the idea that when the government informs schools to close, they close as quickly as possible, but when school reopening is announced, they do not.

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