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Re-opening of Schools: Union Education Ministry Issue Strict Guidelines  

Re-opening of Schools: Union Education Ministry Issue Strict Guidelines  

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NEW DELHI, Oct 5: The union education ministry has issued strict guidelines for re-opening of the educational institutions in the country which the centre under unlock-5 had left it to the discretion of the concerned states and the union territories to take a decision after October 15. But whatever may be the decision, the education ministry guidelines continue to give options to the school students to continue with on-line classes or physically attend classes with written consent of the parents.

As per the education department guidelines issued on Monday, the schools and coaching institutions can open in a graded manner after October 15 but the schools which are allowed to open must follow the guideline prepared by States/UTs education departments based on SOP issued by the Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL).

The ministry said the States/UTs may adopt or adapt the standard operating procedure (SoP) as per local context and requirements.

Quoting the union home ministry’s order of September 30 declaring SOPs under unlock-5, the education ministry said the “states and UTs can take decision in respect of the reopening of schools and coaching institutions after 15.10.2020 in a graded manner in consultation with the respective schools/institutions management and based on the local situation. For this purpose, States/UTs will prepare their own SOP regarding health and safety precaution for reopening of schools based on the SOP to the Ministry of Education, Government of India. States/UTs may adopt or adapt the SOP as per local context and requirements,” the guidelines read.

The guidelines for reopening of schools are comprised of two parts, one is SOP for health, hygiene, and safety and another is learning with physical and social distancing.

The education ministry’s guidelines said the SOP for health, hygiene and safety included the preparation the schools have to do before reopening such as proper cleaning and sanitisation of all parts of the school, provision for hand wash and disinfection, seating plan, safe transport plan, staggering of time table and classes, precaution at entry and exit points, and arrangements for safe residential stay at hostels and sensitisation of students, teachers, school authorities, school management committees, and parents.

The SOP also provides for safety protocols to be followed after the opening of schools such as maintaining physical/social distancing norms by keeping a minimum six feet gap between each other, wearing of masks at all times in the classroom, laboratory and play areas, maintaining hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette and screening before entry into the school and students may attend schools only with the written consent of parents.

The guidelines further stated that there will be flexibility in attendance norms and students may opt for online classes rather than physically attend school.

The SOP also emphasises on following the health protocols as advised by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Moreover, precautions to be taken for preparing and serving mid-day meal in schools are laid down in the SOP.

“Academic aspects related to teaching-learning and assessment with a focus on learning outcomes are redefined including revision of academic calendar and preparation of comprehensive academic plan. An alternative academic calendar of NCERT may be followed. Assessment should be learner-friendly and involving different formats rather than pen-paper test. No assessment till up to 2-3 weeks of school reopening and Use of ICT and online learning shall continue to be encouraged.”

The SOP also lists out the role and responsibility of the State/UT Education Departments, school heads, teachers, parents and guardians and how to carry out capacity building of different stakeholders.

(Manas Dasgupta)

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