The Union Ministry of Education today (Monday) released guidelines during the Unlock 5 process for the reopening of schools after 15 October. In cooperation with the Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL), the guidelines were released. As per the guidelines, after October 15, schools and coaching institutions may open in a graded manner. The Ministry said that the Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) may be adopted or adapted by States / UTs according to local context and requirements.
“As per para -1 of MHA order no. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated 30.09.2020 for reopening, States/UT Governments may take a decision in respect of the reopening of schools and coaching institutions after 15.10.2020 in a graded manner in consultation with the respective schools/institutions management and based on the local situation. For this purpose, States/UTs will prepare their own SOP regarding health and safety precaution for reopening of schools based on the SOP to the Ministry of Education, Government of India. States/UTs may adopt or adapt the SOP as per local context and requirements,” the guidelines read.
According to DoSEL, schools that are permitted to open must comply with the guidelines prepared by the education departments of States / UTs based on the DoSEL SOP. The school reopening guidelines consist of two sections, one of which is SOP for fitness, hygiene, and protection, and the other is for physical and social distance learning. The guidelines of the Education Ministry further indicated that the health, hygiene and safety SOP involves planning that schools have to do before reopening, such as proper cleaning and sanitation of all sections of the school, hand washing and disinfection provision, seating plan, safe transport plan, staggering time table and classes, precaution at entry and exit points, and safe arrangements for residential stay at hostels and sanitisation of students, teachers, school authorities, school management committees, and parents.
The SOP also provides safety precautions to be observed after the re-opening of schools, such as upholding physical / social distance requirements by maintaining a minimum gap of 6 feet between each other, wearing masks in the classroom, laboratory and play areas at all times, maintaining hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette, and screening before school entry, and students can only enter schools with witness The guidelines have suggested that attendance requirements would be flexible and students may opt for online courses. The SOP have emphasizes compliance with health protocols as recommended by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. In addition, the SOP sets out steps to be taken in order to prepare and deliver mid-day meals in classrooms.
“Academic aspects related to teaching-learning and assessment with a focus on learning outcomes are redefined including revision of academic calendar and preparation of comprehensive academic plan. An alternative academic calendar of NCERT may be followed. Assessment should be learner-friendly and involving different formats rather than pen-paper test. No assessment till upto 2-3 weeks of school reopening and Use of ICT and online learning shall continue to be encouraged.” The SOP also lists out the position and responsibility of the State / UT Education Departments, school heads, teachers, parents and guardians and how to carry out capacity building of different stakeholders. Finally, a checklist for a healthy school setting, as adopted by the guidelines of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), is given for the delivery of COVID-19 to school parents and students.