Private schools in Pune dist seek time to reopen, demand free Covid-19 test for teachers
As the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations are mulling over reopening of schools for students for classes 9 to 12, in Pune’s rural area schools will be starting from Monday (November 23). However, Independent English Schools Association (IESA), which works for the betterment of the academic ecosystem of private schools in Maharashtra, has said they are unable to reopen schools immediately and need at least a weeks time.
They have also put forth their various demands like free Covid-19 test of teachers, funds of purchasing Covid safety equipment and sanitisation among others.
IESA also represents Maharashtra at the National Level through the National Independent School Alliance (NISA).
There are 1,400 private schools in Pune and around 40,000 teachers teaching at these schools.
“State government has declared that schools can reopen from November 23 for classes 9 to 12, but while issuing the guidelines for reopening schools they did not mention anything about private schools. The government should make arrangements to conduct free Covid-19 tests of teachers from private schools like that of government schools,” said Rajendra Singh, president, IESA. The Maharashtra education department has made it mandatory for teachers to undergo an RT-PCR test for Covid-19 before schools reopen and teachers from government schools can get themselves tested for free at state-run centres.
“The financial condition of private schools is not stable and it is not possible to reopen schools immediately. It will take more one week’s time to commence classroom lectures for students, for that sanitisation of classes, benches and schools premises is necessary. So our other demand is that sanitisation equipment should also be provided to private schools by the government,” he said.
“Also, our RTE admission fee is due from the education department, the state government has given around Rs 23 crore funds to the education department for RTE which it should disburse to schools immediately. This will ease the financial burden of private schools,” he said.
Following sharp reactions from parents and teachers, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Saturday rolled back its earlier decision to restart schools from November 23 and has now decided to defer it till December 13. The civic administration will review the situation and decide whether to open the campuses or not. While Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has held its decision to start school for Class 9-12 on November 23. The decision will now be reviewed on November 30.
“The civic body has now decided to revise its earlier decisions. PMC has issued fresh order on Saturday stating that civic-run, as well as private schools, will not open till December 13 when the administration will review the situation and decide whether to open the campuses or not. Pune is seeing a rise in cases and so it seems only logical to postpone the opening of schools,” said mayor Murlidhar Mohol, on Saturday.
Independent English Schools Association (IESA) carried out a survey to know about students current status on attending the online and offline classes. In this survey, it is found that around six to eighteen per cent of students have not yet attended a single online lecture. As many as 30 to 35 per cent of students are still staying at their hometown or village and not returned back to Pune. Also, 50 to 60 per cent of parents are not willing to send their children to school to attend offline classes.