Amid an upsurge in the COVID-19 cases, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government on Monday announced that schools in the State would reopen in rural and non-rural parts that are non-red zones i.e. the areas that are free from the deadly coronavirus.
A meeting was organised with the school education minister of Maharashtra Varsha Gaikwad by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to discuss the matters of the education system. Thackeray confirmed that even if the schools do not restart immediately, the process of education will start.
Chief secretary of the State, Ajoy Mehta, Vandana Krishna, additional chief secretary of school and Sourav Vijay higher education secretary were also a part of the meeting.
Reopening of schools for ninth, tenth and twelfth standards and colleges in non-red zones is expected to open from July, according to the State government. Classes for a sixth and seventh standard may resume from August and classes for third and fifth standards will be starting from September. While the managing committee of school will decide about the resuming of classes for first and second standard and are likely to begin after their approval.
There are plans of holding a meeting with the school management committees who are further going to discuss the matter with the COVID-19 Prevention Committee in some villages in Maharashtra including the local office bearers, authorities dealing with disinfection, sanitation and supply of water.
CM Thackeray said, "Fear in the minds of parents will be reduced by holding parent meetings in groups."
The government stated about assigning teachers and guards to visit the homes of children not attending schools and migrant workers to update and make them aware of various systems and procedures along with filling up the Aadhaar numbers of children. Gram panchayats can be asked to assist in providing TVs and radios to help those children who cannot avail education.
Thackeray, on Monday, discussed setting up Google Classrooms, organising webinars, providing e-education facilities, ensuring cybersecurity, installing the Diksha mobile app and educating the students about health with the help of speakers from school.
He also assured of starting an education-related experimental project in places where schools cannot be resumed with the help of Tata Sky and Jio services.
Varsha Gaikwad urged that television and radio sets should be provided for starting online lessons. Thackeray assured that he would request Prakash Javadekar, information and broadcasting minister to make these facilities available.
"Parents' opinions about online have been considered. The children of the first and second are younger; they will not be given an online option," the Chief Minister said.
Gaikwad mentioned about the plans for conducting virtual classes daily for one hour for class three to five. At the same time, higher standards will have classes daily for two hours.
"Education will be continued by considering various options such as placing fewer children in the classroom, resolving the children's doubts by the teachers through WhatsApp groups, one day school, even-odd options etc.," Gaikwad said.
Thackeray also added that the funds would be provided to schools in the Konkan districts for repairs that have been ravaged by the disastrous cyclonic storm Nisarga.