Mumbai: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday said it has pushed the reopening of schools in the city to December 15, instead of December 1, in the wake of concerns over the emergence of the potentially more transmissible 'Omicron' variant of coronavirus.
Schools for Classes 1 to 4 will reopen in rural areas and for Classes 1 to 7 in urban areas of Maharashtra from December 1.
Speaking to reporters, BMC's education officer Raju Tadvi said, "The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has posed a new threat before us. We need some time to ensure safety and implement precautionary measures. Hence, we have decided to reopen the physical attendance in schools from December 15."
There are 2,20,000 students studying in Classes 1 to 7 in the BMC schools, he said.
"We need to arrange for masks and sanitise all the schools. We also need to collect consent letters from parents before reopening the schools," the official said.
It is not mandatory for parents to submit the consent letter, the official said, adding if they do not want to send their children to school for the first few days, the students can attend online classes for civic schools.
The state education department has asked all local bodies to seek the consent of parents before reopening schools.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday warned that the global risk from the Omicron variant is very high based on the early evidence, saying the mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with severe consequences.
The assessment from the UN health agency, contained in a technical paper issued to member states, amounted to WHO's strongest, most explicit warning yet about the new version that was first identified days ago by researchers in South Africa.
On Monday, Mumbai reported 115 fresh coronavirus cases, the lowest after the second half of April last year, taking the tally to 7,62,731.
Besides, four deaths increased the COVID-19 toll to 16,334 and recovery count reached 7,41,769, leaving the metropolis with 2,059 active cases, officials earlier said.