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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Tamil Nadu government issues SOPs ahead of reopening schools

The SOPs comes after the Tamil Nadu School Education Department tentatively announced to reopen schools from September 1.

By: Express Web Desk | Chennai |
August 18, 2021 8:24:50 pm
According to the guidelines issued by the government, schools have been asked to ensure that only 50% students are allowed at a time. (File photo)

The Director of Public Health Wednesday issued the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for reopening schools for students of Classes IX, X, XI and XII.

The SOPs comes after the Tamil Nadu School Education Department tentatively announced to reopen schools from September 1. As per reports, an official announcement on the date of reopening is likely to be made by the government on August 20.

According to the guidelines issued by the government, schools have been asked to ensure that only 50% students are allowed at a time. The guidelines also mandate 100 per cent vaccination of teachers and other staff working in the schools. All students, within the eligible group, visiting the schools will also have to be vaccinated.

Before reopening, the schools have been asked to sensitise students, parents, teachers, community members and hostel staff on the preventive measures of Covid-19 through online and offline modes such as pamphlets, letters, public announcement systems in villages, urban wards, etc.

Each school will be assigned to health inspectors and block health supervisors/non-medical supervisors and every school, including private institutions, will have to monitor the changes in the SOPs.

All deputy directors of the health services have been instructed to co-ordinate with the school authorities to ensure they are reopened following SOPs released by the government.

The guidelines also mentioned Mobile Medical Units (MMU) will be made available in the blocks and their contact details will be shared with the schools for use in cases of emergency.

Symptomatic students and teachers will not be allowed and all Primary Health Centres (PHCs) have to be alerted to handle any suspected symptomatic children as per SOPs, the guidelines said.

Sufficient quantity of Vitamin C, Multivitamin tablets and other immunity boosters will also be provided to the students.

The schools have also been asked to ensure proper cleaning and sanitization facilities and have been told to arrange thorough cleaning and disinfecting all furniture, equipment, stationery, storage places, water tanks, kitchens, canteen, washrooms, laboratories, libraries, etc on the school campuses and ensure airflow in indoor space.

Sanitization of school transports before they start plying also needs to be ensured.

At least six feet distance between students has to be ensured by the school management and schools were asked to even mark the seating arrangements for the students. If benches are used, “one student per bench” has to be maintained, the guidelines mention. Physical distancing has to be followed in staff rooms, official area and other places of public interaction.

Schools which have temporary or outdoor spaces (in case of pleasant weather) can utilise them for conducting classes.

The institutions have been directed to ensure physical distancing at the entry and exit for students of different classes. Staggering the time of entry and exit for students of different classes, earmarking different lanes for coming and going, opening all gates at the time of entry and exit in case a school has more than one gate, making announcements through public announcement systems to guide parents and guardians to maintain social distancing are some of the methods that have been suggested.

The schools have also been told to display posters, stickers, messages and signages at appropriate places in the school premises to raise awareness on Covid-19.

The health department also suggested some alternative methods to ensure social distancing such as asking students to attend schools depending on the enrolment, rotationally on alternate days or every two days in a week and combining with home assignments (to be decided by the school education department).

“Running schools in two shifts in case of high enrolments can also be considered by reducing the time duration of school hours per shift, such that the school is able to manage with the same set of teachers in the overall school hours,” the SOP read.

Schools have been told not to conduct any event where maintaining physical distancing is not possible. It has been mentioned that school assembly alone may be conducted in respective classrooms or outdoor spaces under the guidance of teachers.

Virtual parents-teachers’ meetings have been suggested. Also, during the process of admission to new classes, it has been advised that only parents or guardians are consulted.

Students and teachers from containment zones have been asked not to attend schools and other educational institutions until the containment zone is denotified. All employees who are at a high risk — elderly and pregnant employees and those who have a medical condition — have been instructed to take extra precautions.

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