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BMC asks you: Should all schools shut?

india Updated: Aug 12, 2009 01:28 IST

Should all schools and colleges shut down or should they continue classes in the midst of the swine flu scare? That’s what the municipal corporation is asking through text messages to 5,000 Mumbaiites for an opinion poll.

This is first time that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is seeking citizens’ opinion to take action.

But its counterpart in Navi Mumbai has ordered all 128 primary schools, 80 secondary schools and 25 colleges to be shut till August 16.

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s (NMMC’s) move follows a fifth confirmed case of swine flu in the township, of which four are students.

NMMC Medical Officer Dr D.R. Paropkari said: “We have decided to shut all municipal and private schools and colleges. We have taken this step as a precautionary measure.”

Over 1.26 lakh students will be affected by this decision.

And the Thane Municipal Corporation has shut down Hiranandani and A.K.Joshi schools along with 127 Marathi-medium municipal schools and five English-medium schools till August 16.

In addition, private tutorials like Nayak Tutorials and Mahesh Tutorials in Thane have decided to remain shut till August 16 and 17 respectively.

Though most schools in Mumbai have shut down on their own, colleges are still waiting for state directives.

“We have only shut the pre-primary sections,” said K.S. Jamali, principal, Beacon High School, Khar. “We have fumigated the school and are providing students with sanitisers. We don’t want to shut the school till we get a directive to do so.”

“Parents are worried and have been calling us non-stop. We had to shut school till Sunday,” said Neelam Malik, principal of Arya Gurukul School, Thane. “We will wait for the state directive to take any further action.”

Schools are not allowing students with flu-like symptoms to attend class, but in some cases also not appear for the mid-term exams.

“We will allow students who are unwell to take tests again or we will consider their average performance,” said Rohit Bhatt, principal, Children’s Academy Kandivli (East).

City schools that have shut down are Arya Gurukul, Beacon High (only pre-primary), all Kendriya Vidyalayas, Greenlawns, GH Sethi, LH Hiranandani, Apeejay, Utpal Sanghvi, Cathedral and John Connon School, Dhirubhai Ambani School and JB Vacha.

The dreaded flu is now turning into a political issue.

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Shiv Sena students’ wings are visiting schools, colleges and theatres and asking them to close down.

“Our cadre are explaining to them that the shutdown is inevitable,” said Chetan Pednekar, vice-president, MNS students’ wing.

“We got positive responses from school authorities,” said Suraj Chavan, office bearer, Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena, the Sena’s student wing.

MNS cadre also visited theatres like Maratha Mandir in Mumbai Central, Chitra in Dadar, Premier in Parel and asked the owners to stop screening films.

(Inputs from Naresh Kamath)