As high schools are set to reopen from August 23 in districts where the positivity rate is less than 2%, the Department of Primary and Secondary Education has announced the schedule for classes and released the standard operating procedures (SoPs).
The classes will be held in the morning for half a day in all types of schools. However, B.C. Nagesh, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, told The Hindu that attendance will not be made mandatory for offline classes.
As per the orders issued by the department, classes IX and X will be held from 10 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. from Monday to Friday, while it will be held between 10 a.m. and 12.15 p.m. on Saturday. Class VIII students will be asked to come in the afternoon to get their doubts clarified and for alternative form of learning.
V. Anbukumar, Commissioner for Public Instruction, said that schools will be opened in districts where positivity rate is less than 2% as of Sunday. He said the district commissioners would have to take a final call on reopening of schools and a meeting with all DCs would be convened by Mr. Nagesh on Wednesday.
Students who choose to come to schools should get a consent letter from parents stating that they have been given permission to attend classes and that they do not have any symptoms of COVID-19.
The SOPs state that students should be divided in batches of 15 or 20 for the offline classes. Either one or two students should be seated on each bench, and there should be sufficient distance between the benches. One teacher needs to be appointed as nodal officer in each school to ensure guidelines are followed.
School managements have been told to ensure that social distance is maintained inside the campus. To avoid crowding of students, multiple entry and exit gates should be used. If any child has cough, fever or cold, such students should be made to sit in a separate room and parents have to take their children back home.
A child profile should be created to track the academic progress of students. This is to be used if examinations cannot be held due to the COVID-19 situation.
School buses are allowed to ply but social distancing must be maintained. As schools are reopening after a long gap, schools should be cleaned and sanitised. Schools have been advised to take help of local civic bodies for cleaning. Besides this, they have been asked to rope in donors to provide students masks and sanitisers. All schools have to identify a doctor in the vicinity, the SOPs say.
- Inside schools, posters on maintaining social distancing and sanitizing hands should be displayed
- Schools should introduce basic yoga, exercise and pranayama to boost the child’s immunity
- While masks are mandatory for everyone, teachers above 50 need to wear face shields
- Teachers have to get at least one dose of vaccine before attending classes
- Students have to carry drinking water and lunch from their homes
- Schools cannot hold activities that involve children standing in groups
- No teacher who has symptoms should come to school
- Students should not unnecessarily touch surfaces such as chalks, dusters and water bottles
- Schools will not be able to provide midday meal to students