After almost 6 months of seeing their schools shut, students are finally allowed to resume normal classes by the end of the month. The Health Ministry has released a set of guidelines that will allow schools to re-open and for students to resume their normal classes as they did in the pre – COVID era. However, the new normal for school students will be a little different than what they were used to ensure the highest form of protection is provided to students from the ongoing pandemic. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has finally permitted schools and colleges to resume their classes in a phased manner from 21 September.
A notice was issued on Tuesday that read that entrepreneurship and skill training will also commence at the same time and students studying in classes 9 to 12 can attend school “on a voluntary basis.” Schools that are not in the vicinity of a containment zone can re-open, while students, teachers and staff residing in a containment zone will not be permitted to come to the school. “Prior to resumption of activities, all work areas intended for teaching/demonstrations etc., including laboratories, other common utility areas shall be sanitized with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution, with particular attention to frequently touched surfaces,” the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) announced by the Health Ministry states.
Online classes will continue as per normal, and attendance will only be taken on a voluntary basis where students will come to school to seek guidance from their teachers. Wearing a mask is mandatory at all times. “This will be subject to the written consent of their parents/guardians. Such visits and teacher-student interaction must be organized in a staggered manner,” the SOP states.
Entry and attendance at the school will be in a staggered manner even for senior school students who want to seek the guidance of their teachers. All entry points in the schools will be fitted with sanitisation equipment and thermal screening. Markers indicating a 6 feet distance should be made all around the school in staff rooms, cafeteria, library, office, etc. to encourage social distancing. Seating arrangements in classrooms will also have to be changed to promote the same. Activities like morning assembly, sports and events that create a lot of crowds will be strictly prohibited along with activities like sharing of notes and stationery among students in the class. While schools may be reopening now, the risk of catching the Covid19 infection is still quite high and these guidelines are placed to ensure that it is kept to a minimum.