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Centre issues SOP for partial reopening of schools for Classes 9-12 from Sept 21

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New Delhi, September 8: In the backdrop of ongoing ‘Unlock 4’, partial resumption of activities in schools for students of Classes 9-12 will be allowed from September 21, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday. Guidelines have also been issued for school operations amidst Covid-19 pandemic.
However, only schools outside the containment zones will be allowed to open. Assemblies, sports and events, which can lead to overcrowding, are strictly prohibited in the schools that are opting to start operations. The government also said that online or distance learning shall continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged.
“Students of Cclass 9th to 12th shall be permitted to visit their school on voluntary basis for taking guidance from their teachers. This will be subject to written consent of their parents/guardians. Such visits and teacher – student interaction must be organized in a staggered manner,” the SOPs issued by the health ministry stated.
Further, students, teachers and employees living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend the school. Students, teachers and employees shall also be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zones as per the health ministry guidelines adding that the schools that were used as quarantine centres will be properly sanitized and deep cleaned before partial functioning is resumed.
Only asymptomatic people (teachers, employees and students) will be allowed in the school premises as per the guidelines. If a teacher/employee/student is found to be symptomatic, he/she should be referred to nearest health centre, the SOPs stated.
The guidelines stated that the concerned teaching and non-teaching employees (up to 50 % of the strength) may be called to schools for online teaching/tele-counselling and related work. Apart from mandatory masks, following regular sanitisation, respiratory etiquettes, hand washing in schools, the health ministry said that at all times, the teachers and students shall maintain a physical distancing of 6 feet apart, wherever feasible. Seating arrangement has to ensure a distance of 6 feet between chairs, desks etc.
The health ministry has advised that weather permitting, outdoor spaces may be utilized for conducting teacher student interactions, keeping in view the safety and security of students and physical distancing protocols.
“Cleaning and regular disinfection (using 1% sodium hypochlorite) of frequently touched surfaces (door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, chairs, benches, washroom fixtures, etc.) to be made mandatory in all class rooms, laboratories, lockers, parking areas, other common areas etc. before beginning of classes and at the end of the day,” the guidelines stated.
As during the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been instances of mental health issues among students, the health ministry has said that the schools should ensure regular counselling is done for students and teachers reporting mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. It is advisable that teachers, school counsellors and school health workers should work in unison to ensure emotional safety of the students, SOPs stated.
Similar SOPs were also issued on preventive measures to contain spread of Covid-19 in skill or entrepreneurship training institutions, higher educational institutions conducting doctoral courses and post graduate studies in technical and professional programs requiring laboratory /experimental work. (Agencies)

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