Maharashtra School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said on Thursday said that it is up to local officials to decide whether physical classes should resume at schools. 

Earlier, the state government had announced that schools would resume physical classes from 17 August. However, today, the minister said that the decision-making has been decentralized. 

On Wednesday, the state task force on Covid reportedly opposed the decision to reopen more classes at schools. The state education minister was not present at the meeting. 

Today, the minister told reporters that municipal commissioners in urban areas and collectors and Zilla Parishad CEOs in rural areas have been given discretion to take decision. 

“There is no compulsion (on the state government’s part) to reopen schools. The COVID task force members were not aware of our Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). There will be a meeting again. Our (education department’s) secretary is studying the SOP of the task force,” Gaikwad was quoted as saying by PTI. 

Earlier this month, the minister had said that government will reopen schools for students from Classes 5-7 in rural areas, and for Classes 8 to 12 in cities. 

“In the rural areas where classes of standards 8th to 12th had already started, those of standards 5th to 7th will also resume. In the urban areas where no physical classes were being held, those of standards 8th to 12th will be restarted first,” Gaikwad said on 6 August.

She, however, had added that schools would be opened only in the areas where Covid infection figures were consistently low. She also said committees would be formed for each area and they would decide whether to open schools for various classes or not.

Classes for standards 7th to 12th are already allowed in the districts with low infection rates. Most of these districts are in Vidarbha and Marathwada regions.

But this concession was not extended to urban areas such as Mumbai and Pune because of higher number of Covid cases there.

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