Students are allowed to continue studying from home with parents’ consent.

Students seated on benches close to each other in uniform in a classroom wearing face masksImage for representation/PTI
news Education Monday, October 05, 2020 - 18:20

The Union Ministry of Education has released guidelines for reopening of schools across the country. As per Unlock 5.0 guidelines, the Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed state governments to reopen schools and coaching institutions in a graded manner after October 15, after consulting with the managements of respective schools and institutions. Parents’ or guardian’s consent is mandatory for students to physically attend class.  

The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the Department of School Education and Literacy addresses concerns over students’ health as well as academic learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students who wish to study from home can do so with their parents’ or guardian’s consent. Schools have also been asked to adopt flexible attendance and sick leave policies, to encourage students and staff to stay at home when sick. 

The SOP requires schools to disinfect “all areas, furniture, equipment, stationery, storage places, water tanks, kitchens, canteen, washroom, laboratories, libraries, etc. on school campus and ensure air flow in indoor space.” All students and staff members will be required to wear a mask throughout the day, whether in class or during group activities and meals, or while working in laboratories and libraries. 

Schools will have to alter students’ seating plans to ensure physical distancing, and have staggered entry and exit timings and timetables for different groups of students. Any functions or events are to be avoided. 

A full-time trained health care attendant/nurse/doctor and counsellor must be made accessible to all students to take care of their physical and mental health. 

Stressing on the need to prioritise the needs of vulnerable students, including “homeless/migrated students, students with disabilities and students directly affected by COVID-19 through a family death or hospitalisation,” schools have been asked to provide assistive devices and learning content for children with special needs. 

With respect to the curriculum and instruction, the Ministry of Education has issued advisory guidelines. These include the preparation of a comprehensive, alternative calendar for the academic year, and skill development of teachers to integrate ICT (information and communication technology) in their pedagogy. 

Overall, states and union territories have been asked to develop their own SOPs based on the Union government’s guidelines. 

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