Mumbai schools have resumed from December 15 and around 2,246 schools have started for Grade 1-7 which counts for around 92%.
Maharashtra school Education Minister, Varsha Gaikwad, commented today, December 22, that the schools in Mumbai might shut again due to the rise in Omicron cases.
"If Omicron cases continue to rise, we may take a call to shut the schools again. We are monitoring the situation," School Education Minister Prof. Varsha Eknath Gaikwad stated.
Minutes after the announcement was made, parents across the city began to react furiously. The decision did not please a majority of parents, which led them to raise their voices and address this situation once and for all.
Parents Association of Mumbai which, has 5000+ members and petitioners, got vocal and expressed their sentiments. They retorted to the statement of Varsha Gaikwad and questioned the closing of schools when other public places like malls, parks, restaurants, bars, weddings are still running.
Moreover, they said that the decision-making power of whether children go to school or not lies in the hands of parents.
"Only parents should have the right to decide if their children can go to school or not. Children will collapse if this online school continues to be forced on them. It’s disheartening that the first move from the government, anytime there is the slightest sense of the rise in cases, is to shut the school. We will be forced to take to the streets if the decision to open schools is revoked,” said the Parents Association of Mumbai.
Aloka Gambhir, a parent, told FPJ how keeping children from school is far worse than Covid-19 and its variants. She addressed the drawbacks of missing out on education and requested that government lose the fear.
"In evidence-based research, it is pretty clear that the drawbacks of keeping schools shut are far far worse for kids than Covid and its variants. Every other government in the world knows that and is doing things for the betterment of kids. The government also needs to do what is scientific-based," she said.
Another parent, Rohini Daftary, said that around the world, schools have been the first to open and last to close. "As of December 12, the rate in London for this age group (which has been badly hit with Omicron) is still 1.4 per 100,000. On the flip side, the harm to kids' physical and mental state by keeping them out of schools is overwhelming," she added.
In addition, she said, "In the US, even during the Delta wave, schools have been functioning at full capacity (and in some cases with no mask mandates). We need to prioritize our children over social events and gatherings at bars, restaurants, weddings, etc. It is time Mumbai stands up for its children."
While some parents furiously criticized the decision of shutting the schools, Jyoti Vakharia, Principal of MPS ICSE, Woollen Mills, Mahim, said, " If we get any government guidelines as such, we will have to follow it, as it is from the Maharashtra government. Tomorrow is our last working day of the year and will resume after the Christmas Vacation. By that time, we will wait for any circular or guidelines from the government."
Ms. Kavita Chatterjee Principal of Orchids - The International School, Kurla, Mumbai said, "The health and safety of the students has always been our prime concern. We opened the school for Grades 8-10 following all Covid-19 protocols and were prepared and well equipped to open for other grades too. With rise in the Omicron cases, the school management is in dilemma again. Whatever the decision and situation would be, we are ready to face the challenge yet again and would overcome the adverse situation without compromising the learning of the students."