09 Sep 2020
Schools can reopen from September-21, Centre releases dos and dont's
Written byShalini OjhaIndia
Months after they were shut in view of the coronavirus pandemic, schools have been allowed to open from September 21, only on a voluntary basis, by the Centre on Tuesday.
In the extensive guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, it was underlined that only those studying between Classes 9 and 12 can attend classes.
No details about classes for younger students were disclosed.
Only schools outside containment zones can open
As per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), only schools outside the containment zones can open from the aforementioned date and students/staff members outside hotspots will be permitted to attend.
Students will have to get written consent from their parents about attending school, the Ministry said.
Encouraging online learning, the Centre said students can visit schools on a voluntary basis, to take guidance from teachers.
Utility areas, frequently touched surfaces must be sanitized
The Union government directed that social distancing has to be maintained at all places including staff rooms, office areas, cafeterias, libraries, and other places. There must be a minimum distance of six feet between students and teachers.
Before resuming activities, all labs and utility areas must be "sanitized with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution, with particular attention to frequently touched surfaces," the Centre said.
No morning assembly, sharing of water bottles and stationery allowed
The Centre underlined that senior students will not report to the school together, adding that sanitizers have to be kept at all entry points.
After the schools resume, activities that could lead to crowding, for example, morning assembly, would be discontinued.
Students will be prohibited from sharing notebooks, pens/pencils, water bottles. "Cafeteria/mess facility, if any within the premises, shall remain closed," Centre said.
Schools asked to keep masks in stock
The guidelines added, "Provide an adequate supply of thermal guns, alcohol wipes or one percent sodium hypochlorite solutions and disposable paper towels, soap, IEC materials on COVID-19. A pulse oximeter to check oxygen saturation levels of any symptomatic person must be arranged."
Schools also asked to ensure emotional safety of kids
The Centre's guidelines also suggested regular counseling for students to help them deal with mental health issues.
"It is advisable that teachers, school counselors, and school health workers should work in unison to ensure the emotional safety of the students," the Centre said.
Older employees, pregnant staff, and those having underlying medical conditions should not be at the frontline, the guidelines added.
Those displaying symptoms must be isolated: Centre
When transporting students, schools must ensure social distancing, said the Centre. In case a student or staff member displays coronavirus symptoms, they should be isolated and the nearest clinic be informed immediately.
To recall, all educational institutions were shut through February and March, as the nation struggled with COVID-19.
While relaxations were given subsequently, schools largely remained off-limits.