Education Ministry Issues School Reopening Guidelines, Details Inside
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Education Ministry Issues School Reopening Guidelines, Details Inside

The Ministry of Education on Monday (October 5, 2020) issued guidelines for reopening of schools. This comes following the announcement from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on September 30, 2020, that the States and UTs can reopen schools, colleges and education institutions after October 15.

The union government has permitted the reopening of schools in phases after October 15. However, the actual timing and manner of reopening will be decided by individual states.

Following are the important guidelines that Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank' announced through a series of tweets:
1. Arrange and implement for thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all areas, furniture, equipment, stationery, storage places, water tanks, kitchens, canteen, washrooms, laboratories, libraries, etc. on the school campus and ensure airflow in indoor space.

2. Schools to form Task Teams such as Emergency Care Support/Response Team, General Support Team for all stakeholders, Commodity Support Team, Hygiene Inspection Team, etc. with earmarked responsibilities will be helpful.
3. Schools may be encouraged to make their own SOPs based on the guidelines issued by States/UTs for the following, keeping in view the safety and physical/social distancing norms, and ensuring that the notices/posters/messages/communication to parents in this regard are prominently displayed/disseminated.

4. Physical distancing / social distancing to be ensured while planning the seating plan, functions and events to be avoided, staggering of entry and exits timings and points of schools, staggered time tables.

5. All students and staff to arrive at school wearing a face cover/mask and continue wearing it all through, especially when in class, or doing any activity in groups, such as eating in the mess, working in the laboratories or reading in the libraries.

6. Display Signages and markings for enforcing physical/social distancing and safety protocols at adequate places. States/UTs should take the consent of parents/guardians before their child/ward begins attending schools. Students willing to study from home with the consent of the parents may be allowed to do so.

7. Sensitize students, parents, teachers, community members and hostel staff on COVID-19 related challenges and their role to be conducted based upon guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare with all the stakeholders.

8. Plan for academic calendar changes for all classes, particularly in relation to breaks and exams. Ensure all students have access to prescribed textbooks before school reopens.

9. Ensure availability in school or at contactable distance full-time trained health care attendant/nurse/doctor and counsellor to take care of physical and mental health of the students.  Regular health check-up of students and teachers may be organized.

10. Adequate information should be collected from students, parents and teachers upon the health status. From local administration: About the State and district helplines and the nearest COVID Centre and other contact details for dealing with an emergency.

11. Flexible attendance and sick leave policies may be developed and implemented to encourage students and staff to stay at home when sick. Actions to be as per the Protocol defined in case of detection of a suspected case of COVID-19.

12. Focus on the most vulnerable students (homeless/migrated students, students with disabilities, and students directly affected by Covid-19 through a family death or hospitalization) to prioritize their needs. Ensure the provision of assistive devices and learning content as per the needs of the CwSN.

13. To meet the nutritional requirements of children and safeguard their immunity during the COVID-19 outbreak, States / UTs were advised to provide hot cooked Mid-Day Meal or its equivalent Food Security Allowance to eligible children during the closure of schools and summer vacations.

14. Adequate focus on food safety, health, and hygiene along with physical/social distancing.