Schools reopen from next week. Alternative academic calendar and other COVID-19 rules to know

The union ministry of education on Monday released a detailed guidelines for reopening schools and colleges in the country. Under Unlock 5.0, the central government allowed schools and colleges to restart in a limited manner, starting from October 15. starting from 15 October. The states have the authority to decide whether they want to resume schools from the next week or not.

“Checklist for a safe school environment, as adopted from @UNICEFIndia guideline is provided for schools parents and students to contain the spread of #COVID19,” the education minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said.

Students are permitted to go to school — strictly on voluntary basis. Students will have to get a consent slip from their parents to visit the schools from next week. However, the students and teachers who live in the containment zones, are not allowed to attend schools. “Students may attend schools only with the written consent of parents. There will be flexibility in attendance norms. Students may opt for online classes rather than physically attend school,” the education minister said.

Schools are encouraged to form task teams such as — emergency care support, support/response team, hygiene team with certain responsibilities. While planning the seating arrangements, the authorities must maintain social distancing. The schools are advised to follow staggered entry and exit timings or separate exit and entry gates if feasible.

All the coronavirus preventive measures such as maintaining social distancing, covering face with a mask or cover, washing or santising hands need to be strictly followed. Schools must arrange and implement thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all areas, furniture, equipment, stationary, storage, water tanks, kitchens, canteens, washrooms, laboratories, libraries on the campus. Thermal scanners for screening the body temperature of students and teachers are mandatory at the school entrance.

Schools are allowed to make an alternative calendar of activities for the whole year. The education institutions can plan the changes in the academic calendar, particularly the breaks and the examination schedules. The new plan may follow the guidelines of Alternative Calendar prepared by the NCERT. Teachers are advised to discuss the clear roadmap of the curriculum, the modes of learning, the dates of assessment with the students. Divergent use of teaching resources are encouraged to maintain social distancing and other safety norms.

“No assessment till up to 2-3 weeks of school reopening. Use of #ICT & online learning shall continue to be encouraged. The SOP also provides for guidelines on ensuring emotion well being of students and teachers with a reference drawn to #Manodarpan initiative,” the minister further added.

PRAGYATA guidelines on online education can be used to orient students and teachers. “If the state has energised textbooks, inform students and parents how to download the e-content,” the ministry added.

To meet the nutritional requirements of children, the states and union territories are advised to provide hot cooked mid-day meal or its equivalent food security allowances to eligible children during closure of schools and summer vacation, the ministry of education said.

The schools and colleges have been shut since mid-March, owing to a nationwide lockdown to curb COVID-19. “States/UTs to prepare their own SOP regarding health and safety precaution for reopening of schools based on the SOP to be issued by DoSEL, @EduMinOfIndia. States/UTs may adopt or adapt the SOP as per local context and requirements,” the education minister added.