As part of the guidelines of the fourth phase of unlocking the lockdown amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Central government has, on Tuesday, said that the schools would be re-opened for classes 9 to 12 on a voluntary basis on September 21 and the students of these classes can come to schools voluntarily to take guidance from the teachers.
In what has become a gradual resumption of the schools that are being shut down for the last five months owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Union Ministry Health and Family Welfare has issued the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for schools which they need to adhere while re-opening the classes from September 21. The Ministry has mandated teachers, students, and employees in the schools to follow the guidelines.
The Central government has said that the schools that are outside the containment zones are permitted to re-open while the schools that are in the ambit of containment zones would remain closed. The students will not be allowed to enter the schools in the containment zones. The students who are attending the classes on a voluntary basis for guidance from their teachers should obtain written consent from their parents and guardian to attend the schools.
According to the guidelines, the students and staff must ensure to maintain at least six feet of social distancing while on the premises of schools. They should wear facemasks and face covers, and spitting on the campus is strictly prohibited. The students and staff are instructed to wash their hands frequently and are advised to use alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The Center has also instructed to install and use the Aarogya Setu App wherever possible and necessary.
Though the Center has encouraged the online and distance learning, it has allowed the activities in school to have a gradual resumption and the government has mandated the management of schools to sanitize the campus before re-opening with the keen attention of disinfecting the surfaces that are regularly used and touched and the schools are asked to make arrangements for contactless attendance instead of biometric attendance. The administrations can permit up to 50% of the non-teaching staff to come to school to work for online classes and other related works.
The schools are strictly prohibited to organize assemblies, sports, and other events that would attract a huge gathering. The swimming pools in the schools would remain closed and the schools are mandated to put in place strict screening protocols and hand sanitizer dispensers at the entrance of the schools so that the students and staff would be checked before entering the premises.
The guidelines have also asked the schools to install posters to campaign about the preventive measures to curb the spread of the pandemic and the schools should only permit the asymptomatic people to enter whereas the symptomatic persons should be referred to the nearest medical facilities. The entry of visitors into the schools would be restricted and the administration has to follow proper crowd management in the parking lots and on the campus.
Gradual resumption of schools would be one of the significant relaxations poured by the Center to pull out the nation from the lockdown experiment to containing the COVID-19 spread. These institutions have been shut for the past five months and students are settling up for the new normal of learning online. The government has eased the restrictions across the nation from September 1 and lifted the ban on the movement of people and transportation channels from September amid the rampant spread of the pandemic. India has reported 43,70,129 positive cases so far as of Wednesday morning and it is the second worst-hit country by the pandemic in the world after the United States.
To read the Standard Operating Procedures for schools, please visit: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/FinalSOPonpartialresumptionofactivitiesinschools8092020.pdf