Mumbai, 20th January 2022: Maharashtra School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad has announced to re-open schools in Maharashtra. She said, “the schools in the state from class 1 to class 12 would reopen from January 24”.

The minister said that the Maharashtra CM has also agreed to his proposal. The government has empowered the local municipal bodies in cities and the administration in districts to decide on the reopening of offline classes based on the situation of COVID-19.

Gaikwad said, “From 24 (January) we will reopen the schools of classes 1-12 with the COVID protocol; CM has agreed to our proposal. We have also decided to open pre-primary schools from January 24,”.

The School Education Department’s proposal to reopen schools for offline classes from January 24 was sent to the Chief Minister’s Office. The School Education Minister said that the department has received several applications from various stakeholders for the reopening of schools, and the department has taken the decision keeping in mind the safety of the children.

She said, “The Chief Minister gave his consent to reopen offline schools for classes 1 to 12. Till now, pre-primary schools were also closed. But we have decided to reopen pre-primary schools as well. Wherever the cases of Covid have reduced, schools will be opened again from January 24. However, Covid-appropriate behavior, SOPs issued by the government should be followed by the schools.”

The minister further said, “We are not talking of reopening the schools. Local bodies have the right to make a decision based on the COVID-19 situation in the city or district.”

That is, the local administration will decide whether to open schools in their area or not.

Significantly, offline classes in schools and colleges were resumed in December as the COVID-19 cases were decreasing. However, with the increase in coronavirus infection in January, the state government decided to keep the offline classes closed.

The Chief Minister’s Office has given the nod given mounting pressure from various places to reopen schools, apart from early signs of the third wave easing in some parts of the state.

The Education Minister said, “We have received many representations from parent associations, schools, elected representatives, etc. for reopening of schools. All of them argued that children are missing from the social environment, school environment, interactions, etc. Our priority has always been the safety of the children. But as the cases of covid are decreasing, we have decided to reopen the schools, and the decision will be with the local municipal bodies.”

The decision to open schools in Maharashtra has been taken at a time when the cases of corona in the state got 4 thousand more on Wednesday than the previous day. On Wednesday, 43,697 new cases were registered in Maharashtra, which was 4,000 more than the previous day.

There were 39,207 cases on Tuesday. According to the health bulletin released on Wednesday, 49 people died during this period, taking the total death toll to 1,41,934. Also, 46,951 people were cured of the viral disease in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of recoveries to 69,15,407. The state reported 214 new cases of the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus, taking the total number to 2,074. Out of these, 1,091 patients have been discharged after a negative RT-PCR test.