The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has announced the staggered reopening of schools from September 21, 2020. Students who are studying in class 9th to 12th are allowed to voluntarily attend the school, after getting permission in writing from their parents. The decision will also be based on prior permission of their parents or guardians. The government has issued certain COVID specific guidelines that must be followed by the students as well as the teaching and non-teaching staff. Due to the COVID19 pandemic, educational institutes in the country have been shut since March 16, 2020. The phase-wise opening of education institutes shall commence from September, 2020.
The central government announced certain Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that must be followed by students at all times. Firstly, schools located outside of containment zones have been allowed to re-open. Moreover, teachers and students staying in the area that comes under the containment zone are not allowed to attend the school. The physical distancing of at least 6 feet must be maintained wherever feasible. It is also mandatory for students to wear masks/face covers at all times. Students are also advised to wash their hands frequently with soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) wherever feasible. Similarly, frequent usage of alcohol-based hand sanitizers is also encouraged. Basic respiratory etiquettes must be followed and self-monitoring of health must be carried out at all times. The ministry has also advised students to use the Aarogya Setu App wherever necessary.
Students of classes 9th to 12th are given the choice to attend school either virtually or physically. In this phase-wise resumption of schools, online education shall be encouraged. Students are allowed to get guidance from their teachers on a voluntary basis only after prior permission from their parents/guardians. Activities such as assemblies, sports events, etc that can lead to overcrowding are also strictly prohibited. For safeguarding student health and safety, spitting within and outside school premises is also strictly prohibited. Similarly, swimming pools shall remain closed while gymnasiums shall be allowed to function under separate guidelines issued by the government.
The central government has also specified certain safety protocols for students while entering school premises. Students, non-teaching and teaching staff who does not have any visible symptoms of COVID-19 are allowed to attend the school. It is advised that if any staff members, teaching and non-teaching and students are symptomatic then they should immediately visit the nearest healthcare facility. At the entrance, students must undergo thermal screening and proper sanitation procedures before being allowed entry into the premises. Schools are advised to use multiple gates/ entry points to prevent the crowding of students. It is also the responsibility of teachers to ensure that students are wearing their masks at all times inside the premises.
Resumption of schools across the country is a huge responsibility for the government. As the country prepares itself for the phase-wise reviving of economic activities, the health ministry has chalked-out important SOPs that must be followed by students, teachers and the school staff. This is to ensure the safety and health of all the students while also protecting their academics.