Amid rush to reopen schools, Maharashtra suffered the first major blow on Wednesday (September 1) when 22 people, including students, tested positive for COVID-19 at St Joseph School in Mumbai.
A total of 16 students tested positive — four are below 12 years of age and 12 are in the 12-18 age bracket.
Two days back, 18 from a children’s home in Mankhurd, a Mumbai suburb, had tested positive for COVID.
Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said recently that the state aims to fully vaccinate all teaching and non-teaching staff by September 5.
Tope said the state COVID task force is open to the idea of reopening schools completely in districts with no positive case at present, but said a final decision in this regard will be taken after due consideration. He said the state is concerned about the upcoming festival season and sudden spike in Kerala, which recorded over 30,000 cases on a single day after Onam celebrations.
On August 17, State education minister Varsha Gaikwad announced reopening of schools for classes 5 to 8 (in rural areas) and 8 to 12 (in cities).
The state has made it compulsory for students to bring consent letter from parents. Besides, vaccination was made compulsory for all teachers and staff. Classes are being held on alternate days to avoid rush.
Amid fears of COVID third wave hitting children hard, Maharashtra Surveillance Officer Dr Pradeep Awate said there is no scientific basis to believe so and that parents should not panic. “A prediction that more children will be affected in an anticipated ‘third wave’ is just that: a prediction. It is pointless for people to panic. The Association of Pediatricians has also made this clear,” said Dr Awate.