Maharashtra Minister of School Education Bacchu Kadu said on Sunday that the state government would reopen schools for Classes 9 to 12 after Diwali. He, however, clarified that the students would be allowed to attend classes only in strict adherence to Covid-19 norms, including wearing masks, social distancing and using hand sanitisers. Kadu’s announcement is important, as the state government has already rejected the Centre’s suggestion to restart schools from mid-October, citing rising coronavirus cases across Maharashtra.
Kadu, who recently recovered from Covid-19, said, ‘‘All government and private schools and colleges are closed in view of the coronavirus crisis. But after Diwali, which ends on November 16, schools will be reopened for Classes 9 to 12. However, students will be admitted to schools subject to all rules and regulations currently in place to combat the Covid-19 crisis.’’ He informed that the government would formulate a comprehensive policy before reopening the schools.
‘‘The government will decide whether teachers between 50-55 years of age be allowed to attend schools, bearing in mind the high risk. The government will also discuss, as a stop-gap arrangement, whether schools can appoint or hire teachers to avoid any disruption. Further, the government will also discuss whether testing of all students before the reopening of schools will be made mandatory, to prevent infection. All these issues will be deliberated upon and be included in the proposed policy,’’ said Kadu.
Thereafter, the state cabinet will take a final call after reviewing the Covid-19 cases across the state. The number of progressive cases have crossed 14.30 lakh, more than 37,000 deaths have occurred while active cases were above 2.58 lakh. The state’s average fatality rate is 2.64 per cent.
The government has launched online education through various apps and in association with the state-run Doordarshan. It has recently tied up with Google to cover over 1.09 lakh government, private, aided, and unaided schools and benefit over 22.03 million students. Students and teachers will get access to Google Classroom and G Suite for education that will provide solutions to support remote learning.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has already made a strong case for commencement of the academic year from January 2021 because of the present crisis. It was supported by Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray.