While Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray gave his go-ahead to the decision, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) issued a circular on Friday stating that all schools under its jurisdiction in Mumbai will continue to remain shut until further notice.
State School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said the proposal for reopening schools for classes V to VIII was submitted to the chief minister, which he approved on Friday. “The standard operating procedures in regard to the local administration’s responsibility on ensuring precautions as well as the need for parents’ consent and teachers undergoing RT-PCR tests will be issued soon,” she added.
The decision was taken in a school education department meeting on ‘Vision 2025’ chaired by Thackeray.
Schools across various districts in Maharashtra had reopened last November for classes IX to XII. Close to five lakh students in 25 districts had resumed physical classes. But schools in Mumbai, its suburbs, Thane, Pune and Nashik had not opened due to a spike in Covid-19 cases. The government has now decided that classes V to VIII should resume as well.
When contacted, BMC Education Officer Mahesh Palkar said: “Anticipating the second wave of Covid-19 infections in Mumbai, the municipal commissioner had decided to not reopen schools last month. That decision will continue until new orders are received… Once we receive formal directions from the state government to reopen schools for classes V to VIII, the same will be tabled before the commissioner for a final approval.”
“As per the latest circular issued on January 15, all schools in the city will remain closed until further notice,” he added.
The BMC education department had proposed reopening classrooms for classes IX to XII from January 18 to Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal. However, Chahal had decided against it, said officials.
The civic body, however, has allowed schools affiliated to Cambridge International board in Mumbai to conduct pre-board examinations for classes X and XII in classrooms. This was after a request was received from schools affiliated to the board, which begins its board examinations on January 23.
At the same time, it has also permitted other boards to conduct pre-boards for classes 10 and 12 in classrooms, including those that are yet to announce board exam dates.