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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Punjab: Schools set to open on Monday for classes 10 to 12; detailed guidelines issued for Covid prevention

The schools will reopen for students after nearly four months of the second Covid-19 wave having peaked in March this year and all educational institutions being ordered shut by the administration in response.

By: Express News Service | Ludhiana |
Updated: July 25, 2021 10:54:11 pm
The schools will reopen for students after nearly four months of the second Covid-19 wave having peaked in March this year and all educational institutions being ordered shut by the administration in response | Express file photo

Government, affiliated, aided and private schools in Punjab are all set to reopen for classes 10, 11 and 12 from Monday (July 26) onwards, with the education department of the state on Sunday issuing a detailed document on guidelines to be followed by the heads of such educational institutions.

The schools will reopen for students after nearly four months of the second Covid-19 wave having peaked in March this year and all educational institutions being ordered shut by the administration in response.

As per the detailed guidelines issued by the department, only fully vaccinated teachers and non-teaching staff will be allowed to attends the schools in-person. Parental consent has also been made must for students who will attend offline classes, while online learning continues as before.

Each district education officer (DEO) has to appoint a Covid nodal officer, say the guidelines issued by Punjab’s director of education (secondary).
The order further says that the department has to make continuous effort to get all teachers, staff, and eligible students (above the age of 18) vaccinated.

In case there is a shortage of vaccine doses, then DEOs have to coordinate with the Deputy Commissioners of their respective districts and arrange vaccines for teachers and school staff.

School heads and DEOs have been advised to keep a strict watch on the Covid situation by continuous random testing of teachers and students, as per the order. It has been decided that in all schools, which are being reopened, everyday samples will be collected for testing and for every 100 student who attend classes in-person, at least one student has to be tested mandatorily, says the order. It adds that as per requirement, testing of any teacher or a student can be conducted anytime.

School heads have also been directed to compile data of all students/teachers who test positive and those who get fully vaccinated. For the purpose, a ‘Covid link’ has been activated on ePunjab portal, which teachers have to update daily, says the order.

All schools and hostels, which were temporarily turned into Covid Care Centres, have to be fully sanitised before being opened for students.

If the strength of students is large in a school and social distancing norms are not maintainable, then the school head/management may take a decision whether to hold classes in two shifts or call the students on alternate days, at their own level. Also, school heads cannot physically call students from any other classes except those in class 10 to 12.

Staff and students belonging to containment zones shall not be allowed to attend school and other educational institutions, until the containment zone is denotified.

Students and staff shall be also advised not to visit areas falling within containment zones, says the guidelines.

All recommendations made by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare are to be followed — like all employees who are at higher risk, ie the elderly, those pregnant and those who have underlying medical conditions are to take extra precautions. They should preferably not be exposed to any frontline work requiring direct contact with students.

The order also states that students need to follow social distancing norms while being seated in classes and hence particular seats students to occupy can be marked.

If there are single-seater desks, simply providing space between the desks in the classrooms to maintain physical/social distancing, will be effective. If benches are used, one child, one bench norm may be considered.

Schools have also been prohibited from undertaking any events where physical/social distancing is not possible.

Functions and celebration of festivals shall be avoided. However, school assembly may be conducted by the students in their respective classrooms or outdoor spaces or other available spaces and halls, under the guidance of the class teacher.

‘A District Level Task Force will be created involving DIETs, DEOs and other identified stakeholders for making random visits to schools for observing their preparedness and safe operations. This task force will also prepare a database on the requirements of schools for safe functioning and adequate learning achievements,’ says the new guidelines that was released.

Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, nodal officer of Covid -19, Punjab, said that deputy commissioners have been directed to take an undertaking from all schools in their respective districts on their entire staff being fully vaccinated before they can reopen for students. “The Deputy Commissioners have to ensure that schools are opened only after teachers are vaccinated with both doses,” said Dr Bhaskar.

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