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Highlights of the Standard Operating Procedure for Partial Reopening of Schools

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has released the Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) for a partial reopening of the schools from 21st September 2020 for the senior students of 9th to 12th Classes on a voluntary basis for the purpose of seeking guidance from their teachers. Only the Schools which are outside the containment zones will be allowed to open. The students, teachers, and other employees of the school who are living in the containment zones will not be allowed to attend the school. 

School Management Must Ensure the Availability of the Following Items:

1. There must be a back-up stock of personal protection items such as Face covers/masks visors, hand sanitizers, etc. for the teachers, students, and school staff.

2. There must be an adequate supply of thermal guns, alcohol wipes, and also the disposable paper towels, soap, IEC materials on COVID-19.

3. For the purposes of checking the oxygen saturation levels of any symptomatic person, a  pulse oximeter must also be arranged.

4. There must be a proper availability of sufficient amounts of covered dustbins and trash cans.

5. The Housekeeping employee must be informed and trained about the general norms for the waste management and disposal. 

6. There must be a proper provision for the disposal of the used personal protective items and other general waste which must be done in accordance with CPCB guidelines

What Type of General Preventive Measures Must be Followed to Reduce the Risk of Covid-19?

Given below are some public health measures which must be followed by all the teachers, students and other school staff members at all times:

1. The physical distancing norm of at least 6 feet must be followed.

2. It is mandatory for everyone to use Face covers/masks at all times.

3. Frequent handwashing with soap must be done by everyone even when hands are not visibly dirty.

4. Usage of Alcohol-based hand sanitizers must be done whenever possible.

5. Everyone needs to follow respiratory etiquettes such as covering your mouth while coughing/sneezing with the help of a tissue or handkerchief and also make sure to dispose of the used tissues in a proper manner.

What Type of Preventive Measures Must be Taken by School Management at the School Entrance?

At the entry point of the school, the following preventive measures must be taken place such as:

1. The school entrance must have thermal screening provisions and mandatory hand hygiene (sanitizer dispenser). If possible, multiple gates or separate gates shall be used for entry and exit to avoid the crowd.

2. Only the asymptomatic persons(Students, Teachers, and other school staff) must be allowed entry inside the school premises. If in case a teacher/student or a school staff is found to be symptomatic then in that case he/she shall be referred to the nearest health center.

3. The Posters related to the preventive measures about COVID-19 must be displayed.

4. The School management must ensure that there will be proper crowd management in common areas such as parking lots, corridors, elevators, etc. and the physical distancing norms must be followed by everyone. 

What are the Key Features of Partial School Reopening?

1. The Schools which are used as quarantine centers must be properly sanitized and shall be deep cleaned before the partial functioning will be resumed. For the purposes of guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare for disinfection of common public places including offices, refer to this document.

2. For the purposes of Online teaching and other related work, about 50 % of the strength of concerned teaching & non-teaching employees may be called to the schools. 

3. The senior students of classes 9th to 12th will have the option of attending the classes either virtually or physically only on a voluntary basis for the purposes of seeking guidance from their teachers which is subjected to written permission from the parent or guardian. 

4. The school management must come up with some alternate arrangement for contactless attendance for the students. 

5. In order to ensure the proper queue management both inside and outside the school premises, specific markings on the floor must be made with a gap of 6 feet apart. 

6. The events which lead to overcrowding such as assemblies, sports, etc are strictly prohibited.

What Kind of Preventive Measures Must be Taken by the School Management to ensure Proper Hygiene & Sanitation on the School Premises?

1. The School management must ensure that there will be a provision of soap in toilets and proper availability of hand sanitizers in other common areas in sufficient quantity. 

2. It is the responsibility of the school management to ensure proper cleaning and regular disinfection of frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, chairs, benches, etc. to be made mandatory in all classrooms, laboratories and other common areas, etc. before the starting of classes and at the end of the day. 

3. The Alcohol wipes must be used to disinfect the commonly used items such as teaching materials, computers, laptops, printers, etc. 

4. Deep cleaning must be done for all the drinking & hand washing stations, washrooms, and other related areas.

5. All the students, teachers, and other school employees shall be advised to dispose of their used face covers or masks in separate covered bins which must be placed in the classrooms, work stations, and other common areas. 

What Kind of Preventive Measures Must be Taken While Conducting the Guidance Activities Within the School Campus?

1. The seating arrangement must be done in such a way that there must be a distance of 6 feet between chairs, desks, etc.

2. The Guidance activities must be conducted with separate timing slots in order to allow for the proper physical distancing and the disinfection of the classroom premises. 

3. Teachers must make sure that they themselves and students must wear masks throughout the duration of the guidance activities. 

4. The students are NOT allowed to share commonly used items like a notebook, pen, water bottle, etc among each other.

What Kind of SOPs Must be Followed If a Student/Teacher or any other School Staff Develops Suspected Symptoms of Covid-19?

If the student/teacher or any other school employee develops suspected symptoms like Fever, cough, difficulty in breathing, etc. then the following SOPs must be followed:

1. The first step will be to separate the ill person from the rest of the people and keep the person in a room or area which is isolated from others. 

2. The School Management must inform the parent or guardian about the health condition of the ill student.

3. The School management must immediately inform the nearest medical facility or call the State or district helpline.

4. The ill person will remain isolated while wearing a Mask or a Face cover until he/she will get examined by the doctor. 

5. A Risk Assessment will be undertaken by the designated Public Health Authority and accordingly, further action can be initiated regarding the proper management of the case, their contacts, and the need for disinfection. 

6. In case the suspected person will turn out to be Covid-19 positive, then in that case the disinfection of the premises will be done. 

Conclusion

We have discussed the highlights of partial school reopening for the senior students of 9th to 10th classes who have the option of choosing to visit school premises on a voluntary basis with the written permission from their parents & guardians for the purposes of seeking guidance from their teachers. We have also talked about various preventive measures which the school management must take care of in order to prevent the students, teachers, and school employees from getting infected with Covid-19 infection. For more detailed information, click here

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