About 62 per cent of surveyed parents in Maharashtra are unwilling to send their children to school from January 24, amid the state government's decision to allow reopening of schools from Monday. The findings were based on a survey conducted by online community platform LocalCircle across tier-I, tier-II/III and tier-IV cities of the state that received 4,976 responses. Of the total, 67 per cent respondents were men and the remaining 33 per cent women, the survey showed.
Immediately after the onset of the Omicron-led third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maharashtra government had on January 8 ordered closure of all schools and colleges in the state till February 15 to contain the spread of the virus. However, on January 20, the state education minister, contrary to earlier decision, announced that schools in the state for 1st-12th standard will reopen from January 24.
While the BMC has allowed schools to reopen in Mumbai, the Maharashtra government has allowed local bodies to take the decision on reopening schools after assessing the COVID-19 situation in their respective areas. However, students will not be forced to attend physical classes where schools reopen. In cities like Pune and Aurangabad, it has been decided to keep schools shut while classes continue in the online mode.
LocalCircles has been closely tracking parents' willingness to send their children to attend in-person classes in school at a national and state level since the pandemic started. Amid Maharashtra's announcement to reopen schools, LocalCircles has once again gone back to parents to understand their willingness to send their ward to attend classes at school from January 24, it said.
In response, the majority -- 62 per cent of surveyed parents of school children in Maharashtra -- said that they are unwilling to send their children to school from January 24. "However, 11 per cent of citizens said, Yes (will send from January 24) and 16 per cent said they are already sending their children (to school),” LocalCircles said.
At the same time, it said, 11 per cent did not offer any opinion. In summary, 62 per cent of the parents of school-going children surveyed in Maharashtra are unwilling to send their children to school from January 24 amid a surge of COVID cases and high test positivity rate between 20-25 per cent in the state, it stated.
On Friday, Maharashtra reported 48,270 COVID cases from 2,05,938 tests conducted and there were 37 related deaths, as per the LocalCircles. Test Positivity Rate (TPR) in the state continues to remain high at 23.4 per cent, it said, adding with children under the age of 15 years being unvaccinated and 15-18 age group only partially vaccinated and the highly transmissible nature of Omicron, many parents are concerned about sending children for in-person school.
In the community discussions, many of them have highlighted long-term implications of COVID and the need for in-person schools to only start when TPR falls to 5 per cent or lower, it stated. The platform also said it will share the findings of this survey with Chief Secretary of Maharashtra and Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare so that citizens' pulse is taken into account for Maharashtra as well as it is used as a reference as other states consider reopening schools.
With PTI Inputs