Close on the heels of the death of a student in a drowning incident in a nearby tank last month when he went to answer the nature’s call during school hours in Ganjam district, the State government has directed the school authorities to refrain from allowing children going outside during school hours.

The student was identified as Aruna Munni, a student of Class-II of Matha Barida Primary School under Beguniapada block of Ganjam district.

In a directive issued to all district education officers, School and Mass Education Secretary Usha Padhee said locking of toilets during school hours or disallowing students for their use would be viewed seriously.

It is learnt that toilets meant for the children are left unused or locked during school hours in some schools and as a result the children are compelled to go out to answer the nature’s call, the official pointed out.

“Sanitary awareness should be developed among the students through school cabinet. No child should be allowed to go outside during school hours. The existing toilets must be kept in usable condition with source of water,” the SME secretary directed.

Recently, the State government came out with a norm on school sanitation.

As per the standard approach to sanitation on school premises, it was mandatory for one toilet and one urinal per 40 students on school premises and girls will have separate toilet and urinal in the same proportion. Each toilet should have a bucket, a mug and a tap. Similarly, there will be one hand washing facility per 20 students on a school campus, it says.

SME and the ST and SC Development department would take care of the responsibility for cleaning and operation and maintenance of toilets in schools owned and operated by them.