FPJ-Ed: Schools shut in Mumbai for 700 days and still counting, an open letter to CM Uddhav Thackeray by parents and school association

Chaitali Dharamshi | Updated on: Monday, January 17, 2022, 09:35 PM IST

Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray
 | Photo: PTI
Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray | Photo: PTI

Representatives from the Parents Association of Mumbai and MESTA- Maharashtra English School Trustee Association have written to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, and Minister for Tourism, Environment, and Protocol Aditya Thackeray regarding open schools in Mumbai and Maharashtra.

The letter has been written on behalf of thousands of Mumbai parents from all sections of society, teachers, schools, and NGOs. It highlights immediate help, as children of Maharashtra have suffered the most with schools being closed for 700 days and still counting. "Omicron wave is mild to asymptomatic for children from the past weeks in the city. Education should be an essential service like it is in other countries, it has been distressing for a citizen to see no importance given to Education and children in Mumbai and Maharashtra, " reads the letter.

The letter requests that all classes be able to attend schools and colleges by January 24, 2022. Schools should operate on a regular schedule. Along with that, guaranteeing school bus service is given, as not every parent can pick and drop their children, and packed trains and buses are unsafe for children to travel. Except for contact sports, realistic SOPs should be observed, with the allowance of co-curricular activities such as music, dance, and drama. The option of hybrid learning should be available, and the most essential schools should open when the government directs.

The letter further states that Mumbai citizens are curious as to why commercial locations such as bars, restaurants, malls, gyms, and kid play spaces are permitted to operate while non-commercial ones such as schools are not. Why wait two weeks to make a decision when schools can be opened in two weeks?

Sanjayrao Tayade Patil, Founder President of MESTA, expressed his worry over this, saying, "We have opened our schools for all classes from 1st to 10th today in Maharashtra's least impacted districts, particularly in rural areas. We hope that the government will decide on city schools shortly, bearing the current circumstances in mind. We are hopeful that schools will be able to begin next week. The Omicron surge is already reversing in the city. It is the right of parents to think about their children, and surely consent will be taken, and schools will reopen."

A parent from the Parent Association, Anshu Batra said, "How can we ever think of online school as a viable replacement for schools and keep them shut for 2 years! Let's start academically. How do you expect anyone to learn when they have to keep themselves on mute and speak only when a teacher asks them to. As a result, we have children in grade 3 in private schools who can't even read fluently. When they return to school, they will be expected to be at grade 4 level, and the learning gaps will continue becoming unbridgable. The majority of kids don't have devices and if they do, then the internet is accessible only from one small corner. There are multiple kids in the household, who need access to that one device."

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Published on: Monday, January 17, 2022, 09:35 PM IST