Maharashtra School Reopening: Varsha Gaikwad Releases SOP

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The Maharashtra Government has decided to allow more students to visit schools for offline classes. School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad on Tuesday said students of Classes 5 to 12 will be allowed to attend classes in rural areas from August 17 and in urban areas Classes 8 to 12 students will be allowed to visit schools. Maharashtra schools will reopen in areas where the coronavirus cases are under control. The minister has also released a set of SOPs for students’ safe return to schools.

The decision to send students to schools will be ultimately up to their parents, the minister said.

“Consent of parents is paramount to us, 81% parents said in @scertmaha survey they want schools to reopen so on July 15, 8-12th Std. classes were started in corona free villages. Parents will have final say on physical presence of their wards, attendance norms have been relaxed,” Ms Gaikwad said.

When schools reopen in Maharashtra, teaching hours will be limited to three to four hours per day and no cultural gathering or sports events will be permitted, Maharashtra’s School Education Minister said. Schools will have to provide isolation facilities and tie-up with local health departments for an emergency situation.

In Mumbai, Thane and 11 districts where Covid restrictions are in place, the district collectors have been empowered to assess risk locally and decide on reopening schools, the minister said.

“For the safety of the staff and students, vaccination has been made compulsory for teachers/staff. We have also constituted a task force headed by the collector/commissioner to monitor the resumption and safe operations of schools,” Ms Gaikwad tweeted.

Only 15-20 students have been permitted to be present in class at a given time and to ensure this, the minister said, schools will call students on shifts or alternate days. One student will sit in a bench and a distance of six feet will be maintained between two benches. “Every school will have to formulate a safe transportation plan for the students.”

“In the event of sickness of the student or a family member, the student is advised to stay at home. It will be the responsibility of the school to ensure such a student’s learning gap is compensated by the school,” Ms Gaikwad added.