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Maharashtra’s SOP for schools: Panels to decide on reopening, all teachers to be vaccinated

Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad had last week announced that offline classes will commence in rural areas for students of Classes 5-8, and in cities for students from Classes 8-12 following Covid-19 protocol.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: August 11, 2021 12:35:49 pm
Maharashtra Covid, Maharashtra School Education department, Varsha Gaikwad, Maharashtra Schools, Maharashtra schools reopen, indian express newsSchools in Maharashtra were shut since March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic | Representational image

The Maharashtra government on Tuesday came out with a detailed SOP for schools, which will reopen from August 17.

Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad had last week announced that offline classes will commence in rural areas for students of Classes 5-8, and in cities for students from Classes 8-12 following Covid-19 protocol.

The state government has directed setting up of a four-member committee headed by Municipal Commissioners in Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban and Thane to take a decision on reopening schools in their respective jurisdiction. Similar committees headed by respective collectors of districts have been tasked with taking a decision keeping in view the Covid situation in the area.

The SOP states that schools should be started only in those villages and cities where the number of Covid cases has seen a substantial decline over the past month.

School management has been asked to commence a “Back to School” campaign to let students know that schools will be restarting. The SOP states that physical attendance should not be made compulsory and schools need to take consent of parents before asking their wards to physically attend classes.

The schools have also been asked to be equipped with digital thermometers and sanitisers. The district administration has been directed that if quarantine centres have been set up in schools, they need to be shut down before the school reopens.

All school teachers and staff have been asked to undergo RTPCR test 48 hours before the reopening of the school.

The SOP states that only one student be allowed to sit on a class bench with minimum six feet distance between two benches. Schools with a high number of students have been asked to conduct classes in two sessions. The school timings should not be of more than three to four hours and there should not be more than 15-20 students in each class at a given time. The SOP states that schools can stagger the time for classes.

All teachers need to be vaccinated and local authorities must take steps to ensure that they get their doses. Teachers have also been asked to avoid using public transport while travelling to school. The SOP also states that parents of students should not be allowed to step into school premises to stop crowding.

Schools in the state were closed from March 2020 since the pandemic started and classes are being held online.

Schools in states like Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have reopened recently.

Maharashtra presently has 19,997 secondary and higher secondary schools, in which over 45 lakh students study in Classes 8 to 12.

In July, the Maharashtra government had decided to reopen schools in places where no Covid-19 cases had been reported in a month. Subsequently, from July 12, 5,947 schools in rural areas resumed offline classes for standards 8-12 in rural areas where Covid-19 cases were not being detected.

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