With the center nudging the states to reopen their schools, we assume there would be a lot of new operating procedures that would be in place. Students sharing their tiffin, rushing together to the assembly or sneaking into the playground might now well be a thing of the past and students would have to be ready for a new normal. As the Center have partially allowed schools to reopen for classes 9 to 12 after 21st September, some schools have started putting safety measures in place while others are still struggling to decide whether they should resume the physical classes or not.
A few schools are sending out survey forms to the parents seeking suggestions on the safety measures that they need to use once they send their children to the school. Before they enter the building, students would be needed to checked for their temperature and all other symptoms by a school nurse. Inside the classrooms, they would be need to be seated individually. School authorities from different states have said that they are spending more on keeping the public premises inside the campus like the toilets and hallways clean and disinfected. Some schools are also setting up live streaming facilities in the classrooms so that students who are not willing to come to school can eventually take their lessons from their homes. The recent order by the Center also states that online classes are needed to continue.
School officials believe that this is the most challenging time in the history of education and they are also of the view that teaching has truly evolved during the pandemic. Though they have reduced the number of classes yet at the same time they need to make learning more collaborative and interesting. Doctors and healthcare professionals are of the view that teachers need to explain the seriousness of the virus and its effects to the children as they return to school. Children generally in their early and mid teens are quite adventurous and therefore they might not follow all the safety measures. But instead of putting a negative pressure on them, teachers need to explain them in details and set an example themselves, is what doctors and healthcare professionals believe.
Let us take a quick look at the standard operating procedures for returning to school at the moment:
- Both online and distance learning needs to be encouraged
- Students are required to be permitted to visit educational institutions on voluntary basis
- Students, teachers and other employees in the containment zones will not be allowed to enter the school premises
- Schools that are used as quarantine centers need to be sanitized properly. This has been issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
- Around 50 percent of the staff might be called to school for online teaching
- Lockers of students are to be kept open for use as long as physical distancing among them is maintained
- No sports events or assembly are to be arranged
- Specific gaps in the floor are to be made having a gap of almost six feet in order to manage queues
- Schools that are only outside the containment zones are to be allowed to remain open
After schools open, the following measures are to be undertaken apart from the regular disinfecting activities:
- Multiple number of separate gates are to be used for the purpose of entry and exits
- Only asymptomatic patients are to be allowed inside the premises of the school
- Posters on several preventive measures are to be displayed prominently. Keeping the reopening of schools in mind, ARC has introduced a large number of health and wellness and social distancing graphics to help schools inform their students and staff about the different preventive and social distancing measures along with the latest updates of the state and local governments.
- Entry of visitors in the premises of the schools are needed to be restricted
The following guidance activities are mandatory to be followed for all the schools that reopen from October 15:
- Seating arrangements are to be monitored so that a distance of at least 6 feet is maintained among the desks and chairs
- Staggered timings are to be arranged in order to manage proper physical distancing
- Teachers and students are to wear masks all the time
- Sharing to notebooks, stationary and tiffin are not be encouraged
Though schools have been continuing education through online classes but integration of education and technology takes time and proper training for teachers. The outbreak of the pandemic forced a sudden transformation of the educational system but due to the lack of preparedness, even excellent faculties couldn’t connect properly with students as they could easily in classrooms which highlights the importance of reopening of schools. As India is all set to reopen its schools now, it is extremely important for schools to study the guidelines and decide on all the measures conferring all the pros and cons.