Reopening physical classes might be risky, say school authorities

Reopening physical schools might be risky, especially when a second wave of the coronavirus is expected, state educationists, school principals and teachers. In addition, the implementation of safety measures, social distancing, travel risks and increased cost for maintenance of standard operating procedures (SOP) against COVID-19 need to be taken into consideration.

The earlier direction of the state government to reopen physical classes from Standard 9 to Standard 12 from November 23 has faced some opposition as school authorities, teachers and parents of students studying in schools have raised concerns. On Friday, Varsha Gaikwad, state school education minister, said that local authorities will take a decision regarding the reopening of physical schools for students of Standard 9 to Standard 12 depending on the ground situation.

School authorities stated reopening physical schools is a huge risk during this crucial stage. Tejaswini Mayekar, a teacher said, "The trend of the spread of the coronavirus infection worldwide indicates that there might be a second wave. Also, since the state has allowed some people to commute by suburban trains in phases, more and more commuters are using train services. The risks involved are much higher."

Wait for another month or so, said the principal of a South Mumbai school. The principal said, "We have kept schools shut for almost six months. We can wait for another month to check if the number of cases are reducing or at least being contained. It is not wise to take such risks by reopening schools at the last minute."

In addition, the implementation of precautionary measures, distancing and cleanliness is a major question, raised by parents. Iqbal Muhammad, a parent said, "Many schools were used as quarantine facilities. The responsibility of maintaining safety measures and cleanliness in schools is to be carried out right from the ground level non-teaching staff to the higher state authorities. There cannot be any loopholes, incompetency or carelessness."

On the other hand, the state School Education Department said there are some students who do not have access to online education. A senior official of the department said, "There are students in remote areas who do not have access to online education. We need to start physical classes soon so that students can learn their syllabus and not be deprived of regular classes."

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