After 9 months, schools reopen in Aurangabad, Nagpur, Pune

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(Eds: Adds details from Nagpur, Pune) Aurangabad/Nagpur/Pune, Jan 4 (PTI) After remaining closed for over nine months due to the COVID-19 outbreak, schools reopened on Monday for students of select classes in Aurangabad, Nagpur and Pune cities of Maharashtra with all protocols and precautions in place, officials said.

In Nagpur city, 67 teaching and five non-teaching staff tested positive for COVID-19 during tests conducted ahead of reopening of schools, they said.

In Aurangabad in central Maharashtra, two teachers and four other staff members tested positive for coronavirus before reopening of schools for students of classes 9 and 10, a civic official said.

As many as 559 schools located within Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) limits reopened for select classes, while this number was 268 in Aurangabad city.

Nagpur education officer Priti Mishrikothkar told PTI that out of 580 schools in NMC limits, 559 reopened after a gap of more than nine months.

A total of 14,097 students of classes 9 to 12 marked their attendance on the first day, she said.

She said 4,837 teachers were present in all these schools, while 2157 non-teaching staff also reported for work.

Also, 67 teaching staff and five non-teaching staff tested positive for the viral infection, Mishrikothkar said.

A total of 44 schools reopened for classes 9 and 10 in Pune city with 30 per cent attendance registered on the first day.

'There are around 530 schools and junior colleges in Pune city. Of 530, today 22 schools of the Pune Municipal Corporation and 22 private schools reopened in Pune city,' said Suresh Jagtap, Additional Municipal Commissioner.

Schools fulfilling COVID-19-related and other norms are being given permission to reopen, Jagtap said.

'Besides these 44, as many as 126 more schools and junior colleges will reopen tomorrow as their inspection has been completed by the civic body,' he added.

Jagtap said around 30 per cent attendance was recorded on the first day.

Jagtap said as RT-PCR test is mandatory for teachers before joining duties, those found positive for COVID-19 have been asked not to come to school.

He did not give any number about such teachers.

The Pune civic official said all safety norms such as thermal screening, frequent hand wash and mask usage are being followed in schools and seating arrangements have been made keeping in mind social distancing.

Schools have already opened in rural part of Pune district.

In Aurangabad city, 268 schools reopened on Monday, officials said.

There was good response from students in the civic-run schools in Aurangabad on the first day of classes, an official said.

While permitting reopening of schools for classes 9 and 10, which were shut since March last year following the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown, the Aurangabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has made coronavirus test mandatory for teachers and other staffers.

From December 28 till January 3, 2,744 teachers and other staff of various schools underwent RT-PCR tests. Out of them, two teachers and four other staff members have tested positive for coronavirus, the official said.

When contacted, the AMC's education officer, Ramnath Thore, said schools saw good response from students.

'However, some students were sent back home as they didn't have consent of their parents. The students are enthusiastic about coming back to school and we will surely see a rise in the number in the coming days,' Thore said.

Ajay Nilangekar, a senior teacher from a private school in Aurangabad, said students came to attend classes in good numbers.

'We had almost one-third strength on the first day.

The classes will take place for four hours every day.

Sanitisation of the premises is done before the school starts and again after the classes get over,' he said.

Aparna Jabras, mother of a class 9 student from Aurangabad who is currently attending online classes, said she will wait and watch before taking a decision on whether to send her son to school or not.

'As going to school is optional, my son can attend the classes online,' she said. PTI AW CLS SPK GK RSY RSY