School Re-opening: From no sports or canteen to outdoor classes, check complete SOPs for school reopening

After over 5 months, schools are set to re-open in India after September 21, 2020. Ministry of Health & Family Welfare yesterday night released the SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures for school reopening in India. The five page document lists basic measures and specific guidelines to be followed for conducting classes for students of 9 to 12. Among others, the SOPs have forbidden sports periods, assemblies or opening of canteen on school premises.

As per Unlock 4.0 Guidelines released by the MHA, the schools would be allowed to open for 50 per cent capacity for teaching and non-teaching staff. Also, students of classes 9 to 12 would be permitted to go to school – strictly on voluntary basis. The ministry has further stated that schools must ensure that online classes and virtual sessions continue through the period and are encouraged. 

Furthermore, the SOPs also mandate that the students of Classes 9 to 12 would only be permitted under parental consent for seeking guidance from teachers only. The student interaction, thus organized, must also be done in a staggered manner. 

General Guidelines 

Only schools outside the containment zones allowed to open after September 21. Students/ teachers and staff from containment zones will not be allowed to attend the schools. Students and teachers to be advised not visit containment zones while attending school.

Schools that were used as quarantine centres during the lockdown have to be properly sanitized and deep cleaned as per the SOPs released by MoHFW.

Generic Preventive Measures like physical distancing, mandatory use of face covers/ masks, frequent hand washing and self-monitoring of health, reporting of any illness to be followed.

Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing off used tissues properly – Spitting to be strictly prohibited.

Installation & use of Aarogya Setu app may be advised and encouraged wherever feasible

The Guidelines also suggest conducting classes in open spaces within the school campuses – weather permitting.

For air-conditioning/ventilation, the guidelines of CPWD shall be followed which emphasizes that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30o C, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate.

Prior to resumption of activities, all work areas intended for teaching/demonstrations etc., including laboratories, other common utility areas shall be sanitized with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution, with particular attention to frequently touched surfaces.

Mandatory hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser) and thermal screening provisions to be made at the entrance. Schools also advised to provide multiple gates/separate gates for entry and exit – if feasible. Strict regulation of visitors to the school has to be maintained and followed.

Symptomatic persons – teachers/ staff/ students would not be allowed inside the schools and would be referred to the nearest health centre.

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