It has been more than half of a year’s time since all schools and educational institutions in the country were completely shut down in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It was only yesterday, that an official announcement came from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MOHFW) that schools in non-containment zones can be reopened from September 21, 2020. However, as one might easily anticipate, the post-pandemic scenario is going to be different than it has been during earlier times.
The MOHFW has already issued directives to be followed by students, teachers, non-academic staff and other stakeholders involved in the schooling system of our country. As of now, schools will be reopened on a voluntary basis, for Class 9th to 12th, with the written consent of parents and in accordance with various mandatory SOPs that are to be implemented under all circumstances.
The use of masks/face covers is now a mandatory policy that everyone involved has to follow at all times. Among other generic preventive measures, everyone is to maintain social distancing of at least 06 feet and indulge in frequent hand-washing even when hands are not visibly dirty. In addition, proper respiratory etiquette such as covering one’s face when sneezing/coughing are also being implemented. The Ministry has also prohibited the act of open spitting.
Schools have to abide with specific prevention and control measures such as providing enough number of entry/exit points and make provisions of temperature check and sanitization of hands at all such points. Before an institution can be reopened authorities must ensure complete sanitization of the premises. Assemblies and events have been completely banned and although gymnasiums can remain operational as per prescribed protocol, swimming pools are to remain completely closed.
Students and teachers will have to abide by specific preventive measures wherever applicable. Students are to refrain from sharing items and maintain contactless interaction with each other as much as possible. Where skill-based activities are to be performed e.g. labs and workshops, students must sanitize hands before and after using training equipment. School authorities are required to ensure that adequate space is available to follow physical distancing and regular cleaning and sanitization of frequently touched surfaces must be followed.
Dos and Donts For Students
- Ensure that you are always wearing the mask and disposing of it properly after use.
- Ensure that the mask is worn properly to cover the nose, face and mouth
- Maintain strict physical distance from other students. Do not share any item with anyone or use someone else’s item.
- Making it a habit of frequently washing your hands even if they are not visibly dirty.
- Use sanitizers before and after handling laboratory equipment
- Avoid pre-school or post-school hour gathering.
- Report to teachers/supervisors immediately if you feel any symptom such as running nose, sore throat, headache, fever etc.
Dos and Donts for Teachers & Other School Employees
- Wearing a mask at all times is mandatory for all including teachers and employees
- Maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet from fellow staff and students
- Ensure that students are not crowding and are also maintaining physical distance from each other
- Stop students from sharing any items among each other
- Encourage the habit of hand washing at frequent intervals
- Constantly look out for symptomatic individuals including students and other teachers/employees and report to higher authorities immediately
- Symptomatic individuals must not be allowed in the school premises