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After discussing with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, cabinet and the paediatric task force, the state cabinet has decided to re-open schools for classes 1 to 4 in rural areas and for 1 to 7 in urban areas from 1 December, said Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad on Thursday.

Gaikwad said the Maharashtra cabinet took the decision on the matter during the day's cabinet meeting. "After discussing the issue with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, the cabinet and the pediatric task force, we have decided to reopen schools for Classes 1 to 4 in rural areas and Classes 1 to 7 in urban areas from December 1," she said.

"We are committed to safe resumption of schools. In the next six days, the emphasis will be on acclimatizing schools, parents and children towards a safe transition to physical classes, as classrooms have been shut for nearly two years. We will be holding consultations with school management committees and parents," she added.

In-person classes at primary schools in the state have remained closed since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year. 

The Maharashtra Education Minister will also hold deliberations with the pediatric task force on the need to update Standard Operating Procedure for reopening schools for these children, some of whom will be attending physical classes for the first time, Gaikwad said. 

The task force was appointed earlier this year when experts feared that children might be affected by a possible third wave. The education minister thanked schools, especially teachers, for ensuring a safe environment for classes that have resumed so far. 

Schools reopened for Classes 5 to 12 in rural areas on October 4, while those in urban areas resumed for Classes 8 to 12.

Third wave of Covid likely to hit Maha in Dec

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has said that the third wave of coronavirus pandemic is expected in December but it will be mild in impact. Speaking to a news channel, he had said medical oxygen and ICU beds will not be required during the third wave period.

"The third wave is expected to be mild and medical oxygen and ICU beds will not be required," he said. Speaking about the current COVID-19 scenario, Tope said as 80 per cent of citizens are vaccinated in Maharashtra, the infection level and the mortality rate is less at present.

Maharashtra on Wednesday recorded 960 new cases of coronavirus and 41 fatalities that raised the tally of infections to 66,32,257 and death toll to 1,40,807.

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