The Maharashtra state government has recently announced the reopening of schools from January 24 onwards. This decision came after an increasing demand for reopening. Although the government has already stated that the schools will remain closed till February 15 it has now revoked the decision and released a list of guidelines to be followed at the school. Hence, now, classes from 1 to 12 will be held in offline mode from January 24 onwards. This demand was mainly due to the education loss that the students have been facing.
In a video circulating that has been circulating on social media sites, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stated that ‘the risks of being out of school are greater than the risks of being in school’. Hence, the UN agency has cited reasons as to why the schools should remain open.
Firstly, the closure of schools deepens an existing learning crisis. In the case of vulnerable students, the basic reading and mathematical skills are seen to decline. Secondly, in a poverty-ridden world, education is a powerful tool to fight against it. Lastly, but most importantly, the school closures are now affecting the mental health of an entire generation of children.
Stepping ahead further, UNICEF has also voiced that while the schools are closed, it is unacceptable for bars, restaurants, and gyms to function. Students have already been suffering grave academic losses since the inception of the pandemic and now they are required to go back to their schools.
Support v/s Non-support
In Maharashtra, it is seen that the parents are more in favor of school reopening than the school authorities. The decision now rests on the final bodies on how they want to execute the entire plan. On the other hand, there are concerns among some parents as all students have not been vaccinated yet. Some are of the opinion that if all other states have kept the physical classes in the schools shut, then why Maharashtra would reopen them. This is some sort of a lack of uniformity in the decision-making process.
This entire decision by both UNICEF and Maharashtra is receiving mixed reactions from the parents and stakeholders. If, on one hand, people are advocating for the reopening of schools, then, on the other hand, some are resisting it. The primary reason behind not acceding to this decision is that the vaccination process is still underway. Maharashtra is one of the states that has been worst hit by the third wave of the pandemic. Moreover, the COVID-19 cases are still increasing along with the Omicron threat.