TED NewsDesk, Mumbai; October 12. With the continuous rise in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad has said that schools will not reopen in the State before Diwali. Maharashtra has reported 15,17,434 COVID-19 cases and 40,040 deaths due to the disease until today.
The Centre, on March 16, announced the closure of all educational institutions, including schools, colleges, and universities, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. It has now allowed the graded reopening of schools from October 15.
Ms Gaikwad, who recently recovered from COVID-19 herself, said schools have been conducting virtual classes, and teachers have been taking special classes for students in some areas. However, the challenge is to find a solution to end the academic year and assess students, she said. “While we are exploring various options, it is clear that schools will not open before Diwali,” Ms Gaikwad said.
According to senior officials in the State education department, reopening schools under the ongoing conditions is out of the question, as there is no sign of the pandemic leaving us anytime soon. State Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant also said that his department does not intend to reopen colleges until the COVID-19 situation is under better control.
“The situation is grim for students who wish to pursue higher studies abroad, as their future depends on our decision,” he added. Even as the State Government and bureaucracy mull over solutions, children and parents are worried as they seem to be in a dilemma. “I have taken an education loan and my parents are repaying it. If I don’t get good grades in exams, how will I get a good job?” said Raviraj Humble, an engineering student from Pune. There must be some technical solution for conducting exams and tests, he said.
Meanwhile, education expert Kishore Darak suggested that the State Government can combine two or three academic years to address the issues faced by parents concerning curriculum-based losses. While the safety of students is of utmost importance, it is high time that the State steps up and devises a bipartisan approach towards education, he stated.
“The government must come up with a solution where local officials are authorised to take context-specific decisions like full or partial reopening of schools or alternate day scheduling of classes, among others,” he said.