FAQ: When Will States Reopen Schools? What Will Be Different?

As states look to reopen schools post 15 October, the Ministry of Education has issued a set of guidelines.

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In its Unlock 5 guidelines issued earlier this month, the Centre allowed phased reopening of schools and other educational institutions from 15 October. The education centres were shut down in March, more than six months ago, due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

As states look to reopen post 15 October, the Ministry of Education has issued a set of guidelines.

Here are the new rules and what will change for students. Read on.

Didn’t Centre allow reopening of school from 21 September? What’s new about this?

In its 'Unlock 4' guidelines, Centre allowed the reopening of schools for students of Classes 9-12. However, the government said that regular classes cannot be held and that students can meet their teachers in staggered groups, voluntarily and with the written permission of the parents.

However, in the latest guidelines, the Education Ministry has said that the timing and manner of reopening to individual states.

Will students from different states get back to school at different times?

Yes, most definitely. It depends on when their state government decides to reopen and how they decide to resume schools.

Which states will reopen schools from 15 October?

There have been no specific announcements regarding this yet. However, some states which are worst-hit by coronavirus like Delhi, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have announced that schools will not reopen until at least 31 October.

In Uttar Pradesh, the decision has been left to the district administration to take – depending on the COVID situation.

States like Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Karnataka are likely to reopen schools from 15 October, in a phased manner, as they have already reopened for Classes 9-12.

What happens if my state decides to reopen schools but I am not comfortable sending my kid?

The Centre has asserted that students should not be forced to attend classes, and those who choose to not go should be able to attend lectures online.

What about tests and assessments?

Schools should not conduct assessments for at least two-three weeks after reopening. Proper pen-and-paper tests will be discouraged to "ensure emotional well-being of students," the guidelines said.

“Assessments in the form of role plays, choreography, class quiz, puzzles and games, brochure designing, presentations, journals, portfolios, etc, may be preferred over routine pen-paper testing,” the ministry said.

What about schools in containment zones & those used as quarantine centres?

  • Schools in containment zones will not be allowed to reopen
  • Those schools that were used as quarantine centres should be deep cleaned and sanitised before partial functioning is resumed

What’s allowed within school premises?

  • Weather permitting, outdoor spaces may be utilised for conducting teacher student interactions
  • All air conditioning devices should be in the range of 24-30 degree Celsius
  • Assemblies, sports and events that can lead to overcrowding are strictly prohibited
  • Gymnasiums shall follow MoHFW guidelines
  • Swimming Pool (wherever applicable) shall remain closed
  • Cafeteria/mess facility, if any within the premises, shall remain closed
  • For practical activities in laboratories maximum capacity per session based on redesigned spaces, may be planned and scheduled accordingly

How to ensure physical distancing is followed within class rooms?

  • Seating arrangement to ensure a distance of 6 feet between chairs, desks etc.
  • Staggering of guidance activities to be done, with separate timing slots, to allow for adequate physical distancing and disinfection of classroom premises
  • The teaching faculty will ensure that they themselves and students wear masks throughout the conduct of the teaching/guidance activities.
  • Sharing of items like notebook, pens/pencil, eraser, water bottle etc among students should not be allowed

What are the other generic precautions that need to be followed?

  • Physical distancing of at least 6 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 sanitizers (for at least 20 seconds) can be done wherever feasible
  • Respiratory etiquette 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
  • Daily cleaning of the floors shall be taken up
  • Provision of soap in toilets and hand sanitizers in other common areas in sufficient quantity must be ensured
  • Teaching materials, computers, laptops, printers, shall be disinfected with 70% alcohol wipes
  • Students and employee should be advised to dispose of used face covers/masks in separate covered bins placed in classrooms
  • Students cannot be involved in any cleaning activities

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