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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Tamil Nadu eases Covid curbs: Schools, colleges to reopen from Sept 1, theatres from Aug 23

Shop timings extended till 10pm from Monday, all IT/ITES companies can function at full strength following SOPs

Written by Janardhan Koushik | Chennai |
Updated: August 21, 2021 8:26:36 pm
A health worker takes swab sample of a passenger for Covid-19 test, at Coimbatore railway station. (Photo: PTI)

Announcing extension of the Covid lockdown in the state for two more weeks, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said Saturday that the government has decided to resume physical classes in schools and colleges from September 1.

Schools will reopen on a rotational basis for students in classes IX-XII after a gap of nearly 18 months. Classes will be held following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The announcement comes a few days after the Tamil Nadu Public Health Department issued guidelines to be followed by schools when physical classes resume.

According to a statement issued by Stalin, the government will take a decision on resuming lower classes after September 15 based on the how the reopening of higher classes pan out.

Colleges too will reopen from September 1 on a rotational basis. Detailed SOPs on the same will be released by departmental secretaries. All teaching and non-teaching staff should be vaccinated. Institutes for diploma and polytechnic courses have also been allowed to function on a rotational basis.

Theatres can function at 50 per cent capacity from August 23, provided all employees are vaccinated. Members of the public will be allowed to visit beaches and corporation authorities have been directed to ensure that all shopkeepers in the area have been inoculated. Zoos, parks and boat houses can also operate.

Shop timings have been extended by an hour till 10pm from August 23. All shops have been instructed to place hand sanitisers with a dispenser at the entrance. Thermal screening must also be carried out. Both employees and customers need to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Strict action will be taken against commercial entities found violating Covid norms.

All IT/ITES companies can function at full strength following SOPs. All companies which have been allowed to operate must ensure that their workers have taken Covid shots.

Anganwadi centres can open from September 1. All workers should have been vaccinated. Creches and government job training centres are also allowed to operate. Buses can resume operations to neighbouring states Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Swimming pools can open for training purposes with half the usual number of coaches, who should also be vaccinated. Pubs and bars can operate in lodges and hotels.

Members of the public have been asked to follow safety guidelines and step out only if necessary. All district collectors and local body authorities have been instructed to spread awareness on Covid-19. Only essential activities will be permitted in containment zones. The government will constitute groups to monitor these areas.

Stalin advised people to utilise the relaxations responsibly. The government has eased the curbs considering the livelihood of citizens and the future of students, he said.

On Wednesday, the Director of Public Health had issued SOPs for reopening of schools. It said only 50 per cent of students are allowed at a time and all teaching and non-teaching staff must be vaccinated. Schools have also been asked to provide proper facilities for cleaning and sanitisation and ensure airflow in indoor spaces. Other guidelines instruct to maintain a distance of six feet between students and utilise outdoor spaces to conduct classes.

Ahead of reopening, schools have been tasked with sensitising students, parents, teachers, community members and hostel staff on Covid-19 preventive measures through online as well as offline modes such as pamphlets, letters, public announcement systems, etc. Health Inspectors, Block Health Supervisors/Non-Medical Supervisors have to be assigned to each school, including private institutions, to monitor adherence to SOPs.

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