Health Ministry Issues SOPs For Partial Reopening Of Schools, Higher Educational Institutions

This SOP outlines various generic precautionary measures to be adopted in addition to specific measures to be taken when schools are permitting students

The Health Ministry on Tuesday issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) for a partial reopening of schools for students of classes 9 to 12 for taking guidance from their teachers on a voluntary basis. It also released SOP to contain the spread of Covid-19 in skill or entrepreneurship training institutions, higher educational institutions conducting doctoral courses and postgraduate studies.

This SOP outlines various generic precautionary measures to be adopted in addition to specific measures to be taken when schools are permitting students (for 9th to 12th class) in the specific context to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The SOP follows Unlock 4 guidelines of Home Ministry which came into effect from September 1.

The Home Ministry had said that states and Union Territories may permit up to 50 per cent of teaching and non-teaching staff to be called to the schools at a time for online teaching or tele-counselling and related work from September 21. Students of classes 9 to 12 may be permitted to visit their schools, in areas outside the containment zones only, on a voluntary basis, for taking guidance from their teachers and this will be subject to the written consent of their parents or guardians.

This SOP for higher education aims to enable safe resumption of teaching/ training activities in skill or entrepreneurship training institutions, higher educational institutions conducting doctoral courses and post graduate studies in technical & professional programs requiring laboratory /experimental work.

The generic measures by both SOPs include simple public health measures that are to be followed to reduce the risk of Covid-19. These measures need to be observed by all (staff, students and teachers) in these places at all times. These include maintaining physical distancing of at least 6 feet as far as feasible, mandatory use of face covers/masks, frequent hand-washing with soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) and use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers (for at least 20 seconds) wherever feasible.

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Only Partial Reopening Of Schools

School Only schools which are outside the containment zones shall be allowed to open. Students, teachers and employees living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend the school. Prior to resumption of activities, all work areas intended for teaching or demonstrations including laboratories, other common utility areas shall be sanitised with one per cent sodium hypochlorite solution. Schools that were used as quarantine centres should be properly sanitised and deep cleaned before partial functioning.

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The guidelines said that sharing of items like a notebook, pens/pencil, eraser, water bottle amongst students should not be allowed. Cleaning and regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, elevator buttons, handrails, chairs, benches, washroom fixtures, etc.) will be made mandatory in all classrooms, laboratories, lockers, parking areas, other common areas before the beginning of classes and at the end of the day.

India’s Covid-19 tally crossed 42-lakh mark after 75,809 new cases were reported, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) on Tuesday. As many as 1,133 deaths were reported during the 24 hours. The total case tally stands at 42, 80,423 including 8, 83,697 active cases, 33, 23,951 cured/discharged/migrated and 72,775 deaths.

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