Schools throughout India are set to reopen, after more than five months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for Classes 9 to 12 from September 21 with standard operating procedures in place. But this is on a voluntary basis, meaning that its up to the parents whether they want to send their children to school or not. A student would need a written permission from their parents to attend school.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, in an official statement, said the Government of India is following a phase-wise unlocking of activities. He said this would also involve partial resumption of activities in schools for students of Classes 9th to 12th on a voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers.
Teachers, school employees and students would have to ensure physcial distancing of at least six feet, use face masks, frequent hand washing, following proper respiratory etiquette and self-monitoring of health. Moreover, schools also have to continue with online or distance learning and encourage students of Classes 9 to 12 to visit their respective schools on a voluntary basis for taking guidance from their teachers.
Schools would function at 50 per cent capacity and online classes would continue, says the ministry. Students of Classes 9 to 12 would have the option of attending classes virtually or physically on a voluntary basis. The ministry suggests for schools to utilize open spaces outdoors for student-teacher interaction, that is if the weather is suitable. Mess and canteens inside the schools would be closed and there would be no assembly, sports or events which could lead to overcrowding of schools. The health ministry has made it mandatory for students, teachers and non-teaching staff to wear face masks at all times. It said that frequently touched surfaces like door knobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, chairs and benches, washroom fixtures to be cleaned with hypochlorite solution.
It should be noted that only those schools outside the containment zones would be allowed to reopen. Students and teachers living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend, and the ministry advices them not to visit areas falling within such zones. Prior to resumption of activities, the ministry says that all work areas intended for teaching or demonstrations, including laboratories, and other common utility areas shall be sanitized with one per cent sodium hypochlorite solution. And schools that are being used as quarantine centers will be properly sanitized and deep cleaned before partial functioning is resumed.
This directives also applies to skill or entrepreneurship training institutions, and higher educational institutions.