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Schools reopening for classes 9 to12 on voluntary basis

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the reopening of schools. The SOP is applicable for students of Classes 9 to 12 for whom schools are reopening on a voluntary basis in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government said that the phase-wise unlocking would involve the partial resumption of activities in schools for students of Classes 9 to 12 on a voluntary basis from September 21.

These measures need to be observed by all (teachers, employees and students) in these places at all times.

These include:

> Physical distancing of at least six feet to be followed as far as feasible
> Use of face covers/masks to be made mandatory
> Frequent hand washing with soap (for at least 40-60 seconds) even when hands are not visibly dirty. Use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers (for at least 20 seconds) can be done wherever feasible
> Respiratory etiquettes to be strictly followed. This involves strict practice of covering one’s mouth and nose while coughing/sneezing with a tissue/handkerchief/flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues properly
> Self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest
> Spitting shall be strictly prohibited
> Installation & use of Aarogya Setu App may be advised wherever feasible

All schools with Classes 9 to 12 shall specifically ensure that:

Online/distance learning shall continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged.

Students of Classes 9 to 12 shall be permitted to visit their school on a voluntary basis for taking guidance from their teachers. This will be subject to written consent of their parents/guardians. Such visits and teacher-student interaction must be organised in a staggered manner

Reopening of schools is applicable only to schools outside containment zones. Students, teachers and school employees living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend school. Prior to the reopening of the schools, the government has stated, all areas are to be sanitised with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution, with particular attention to frequently touched surfaces. Deep cleaning will take place at schools that were used as quarantine centres. Upto 50% of the non-teaching staff may come to work for online teaching/tele-counselling and related work.

Students from Classes 9 to 12 will have the option of attending the classes remotely/virtually or physically only on a voluntary basis for guidance from their teachers subject to written permission of parent/guardian. Instead of biometric attendance, alternate arrangements for contactless attendance shall be made by the school administration. At all times, the teachers and students shall maintain a physical distancing of 6 feet, wherever feasible. Scheduling of activities and seating plan shall be made accordingly. Schools are to ensure hand washing facilities along with provision of soap.

For ensuring queue management, inside and outside the premises, specific markings on the floor with a gap of six feet may be made. Similarly, physical distancing shall also be maintained in staff rooms, office areas (including reception area), and other places (mess, libraries, cafeterias, etc). Weather permitting, outdoor spaces may be utilised for conducting teacher student interactions, keeping in view the safety and security of students and physical distancing protocols.

Assemblies, sports and events that can lead to overcrowding are strictly prohibited. The school should display state helpline numbers and also numbers of local health authorities etc. to teachers /students / employees to contact in case of any emergency. For air-conditioning/ventilation, the guidelines of the Central Public Works Department shall be followed which emphasises that the temperature setting of all air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24 to 30 degree Celsius, relative humidity should be in the range of 40-70%, intake of fresh air should be as much as possible and cross ventilation should be adequate. Lockers of students will remain in use, as long as physical distancing and regular disinfection is maintained. Gymnasiums shall follow MoHFW guidelines. Swimming pools (wherever applicable) shall remain closed.

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