The India Government has decided to allow the conditional reopening of schools as the nation gradually copes with the ongoing pandemic situation. As per the latest directives of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), schools around the nation are reopening under strict guidelines from today i.e September 21, 2020. The Ministry issued public notices earlier this month indicating the specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for school management and administrators will be required to abide with. Such notices can be found at the official web page of the Ministry i.e. mohfw.gov.in. Reportedly, as of now, schools are reopening from today on a voluntary basis for students of Class 9 to 12 only. However, strict COVID preventive measures are to be followed at all entry and exit points.
In light of the SOPs provided by the MoHFW and more recent tweets by the MyGovIndia Twitter channel (see image above), it is clear that certain guidelines will have to be followed from now on. Emphasis is being laid on securing the entry and exit points by imposing certain measures and restricting the entry of symptomatic individuals in the premises.
Entry points to have thermal screening & hand hygiene provisions
It is mandatory for schools now to make provisions for hand hygiene and thermal screening at all entrances. Students, staff and visitors are to be screened for body temperature at entry points. Proper hand hygiene provisions such as hand sanitizers/soap are now mandatory.
Multiple entry & exit points
Separate and multiple entry and exit points have been recommended by the MoHFW. This means that entry gates should be used for entry to the premises and exit gates should be used for exit.
Strict regulations on entry of visitors
It has been mandated that only asymptomatic individuals must be allowed to enter the premises of the school. Symptomatic individuals (e.g. high body temperature) are not to be allowed inside the school premises. Such symptomatic individuals must be immediately referred to the nearest health care centre.
Display of posters/standees about COVID-19 preventive measures
The MoHFW has recommended that school management authorities make provisions for displaying COVID preventive posters/standees in the premises. In light of the situation when measures like social distancing and personal hygiene are to be strictly followed, this step can influence the level of awareness among school goers and other individuals present on the premises.
In an attempt to impose strict social distancing guidelines, the MoHFW guidelines also mandate proper crowd management at school premises. Special emphasis has been laid on crowd prone areas such as parking lots, corridors and elevators. Furthermore, regulated entry of visitors will add to the efforts of proper crowd management in schools.