The outbreak of COVID – 19 has shaken the world to its core. Not only has it created a threatening wave to the mankind, but has also stunted the sectors of economy, education, household, et cetera of many countries. The novel coronavirus pandemic has provoked a total closure of schools, institutes and universities worldwide, which has plummeted/declined the education level to a great extent. As the pandemic was nowhere near its end, the closure of schools and universities had an impact on thousands of students, teachers as well as cause economic and societal consequences.
The disruption caused by the COVID – 19 pandemic is immeasurable. Schools, universities, institutions, et cetera have been closed for almost eight months now, playing havoc with the education sector.
However, many countries have learned to live in this ‘New Normal’, going back to their daily chores in phases. In India, Unlock 5 is to come into effect soon, which brings along the measure of the Government of India, who has decided to reopen the schools, again.
When are the schools reopening?
On Monday, October 5 th , 2020 Ministry of Education and The Department of School Education and Literacy issued some guidelines regarding the reopening of schools from October 15 th , 2020. The decision of reopening of school is followed by the announcements made by Ministry of Home Affairs that states may/can reopen schools, colleges and other institutions in order to avoid further damage to children’s education. The action was taken into notice after considering the needs and requirements of the poor and vulnerable, as COVID-19 has been harsh on them the most.
Are all the states taking this action?
Despite the Union Government’s announcement regarding the reopening the schools, many states have taken different decisions. For example, the Delhi Government has decided not to reopen the schools till end of this month, while Uttar Pradesh’s Government is ready to get on board, but rest of the decision depends on the districts, as well as the COVID-19 situation.
Do all students have to go to schools?
The Education Ministry stated last month that students from classes 9 th to 12 th can go to school voluntarily, in order to study and meet their teachers. However, this decision depends on the state government as well; whether to send the younger students to school too or not.
In addition to this, the union government also mentioned that the students will only attend the schools physically, if their parents give the consent to the schools. Those students and parents, who do not wish to attend the schools physically, can continue taking classes online.
Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) for schools
- The schools are required to carry out proper cleaning and disinfecting activities in the school premises. Areas such as grounds, water taps, et cetera are to be sanitized and disinfected thoroughly.
- Formation of various groups such as emergency care and support team, hygiene inspection, et cetera shall be done by schools.
- Entry and exit timings of schools should be scheduled and planned in such a way that maintains the norms of hygiene and social distancing. Furthermore, sitting arrangements are to be revised in order to maintain social distancing amongst students.
- Proper air ventilation to be maintained in the classrooms.
- It is mandatory for students, teachers and staff to wear masks and gloves all the times.
- It is essential that the schools have contact with nearest emergency care clinics or hospitals.
- In case any student, staff or teacher shows symptoms of the novel coronavirus, he or she is to be detained and isolated as per the government rules.
- New academic year plan to be scheduled according to the classes, breaks, examinations, et cetera.
- Schools must have the current health status of all its students and teachers.
- All types of precautions to be taken while serving mid-day meals to students.
The government, for the time being has advised to avoid assessments for 2-3 weeks. According to the guidelines, teachers are supposed to maintain the well-being of the students, as it should be their up most priority.