The schools and universities have been hit very severely with the coronavirus pandemic as most of them closed their doors in March. With unlock procedures in operation, the Health Ministry announced on Tuesday that all schools outside containment zones can open from September 21, for classes 9 to 12. However, the students, teachers, or staff members residing in the containment zones will not be allowed to attend school. Higher educational institutions, along with skill training centers, can also resume their classes from September 21. A staggered classroom activity with separate time slots and a mandatory distance of 6 feet between desks are amongst the common guidelines to follow.
Sanitizing and physical distancing
The Health Ministry has announced a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the opening of educational institutes. It states, “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 guidelines also suggest some changes in the classroom structure and say, “Temporary partitions may be considered, if feasible. Any symptomatic student should be immediately given a single room and then provided requisite medical care.”
Entry and exit
As attendance is voluntary, the students coming to class will have to carry the written consent of their parents or guardian. Separate guidelines have been mentioned for all the entry and exit gates of the institutions. All entry points to the school must have hand sanitizers and thermal screening for temperature. To ensure that a physical distance of 6 feet is always maintained, schools have also been guided to draw markings on the floor in common areas such as the cafeteria, library, office areas, and staff room.
Swimming pools to remain closed
Upon reopening of the schools, certain activities have been prohibited until situations normalize. Classes like physical education, sports, or any event that can lead to crowding have been suspended. The ministry has also strictly mentioned for the teachers to ensure that class items like notes and stationery are not shared among the students. Swimming pools will also remain closed, and the gymnasiums will follow the MoHFW guidelines. The schools should also display the state helpline numbers and the contacts of local authorities to the teachers, students, and employees for immediate assistance.