| Mumbai |
Updated: May 24, 2020 11:46:57 am
At the epicentre of coronavirus infections in India, Maharashtra is planning to reopen its schools from June 15 onwards. State’s School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad has indicated that the return to school will be gradual and phase-wise with schools in non-red areas reopening first.
In the fourth phase of the lockdown, Maharashtra has identified municipal corporation areas in Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nagpur and 15 other cities as being in the red zone. From May 22 onwards, curbs have now been considerably eased in the remaining areas of the state, all of which have now been labelled as “non-red” zones.
In an interview to The Indian Express she spoke of plans for running classes in shifts, shortening school hours, banning morning assemblies and sporting activities. “Maintaining social distancing is the key. The option of pairing students with odd roll numbers and calling them in the first shift and the ones with even roll numbers in the second shift is being considered. Another option is to call a batch of class students every alternate day,” she said. “At all cost physical distance will have to be maintained. Only one student will be permitted on one desk,” she added.
Of the opinion that continued school closures will have detrimental impact on pupil progress, Gaikwad said that the government was formulating new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for schools to lower the risk of infection for students and teachers when they return to school. But as far as schools in Mumbai, other red zones are concerned, the minister indicated that “things needed to improve further before they plan reopening of schools.”
While schools in Maharashtra are required to teach for 48 hours in a week, Gaikwad indicated that the number of hours will come down significantly with her department planning to reduce school timing by half to begin with
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