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Maharashtra: SOPs for schools call for 6 feet spacing among children, regular disinfection of common items

The SOP detailed guidelines in two divisions -- hygiene, cleanliness, teaching preparation before school reopening and rules when classes are in session.

Written by Sanjana Bhalerao | Mumbai |
Updated: November 29, 2021 10:29:31 pm
Maharashtra schools, maharashtra covid-19, maharashtra school reopening, maharashtra schools to reopen in december, maharashtra,maharashtra schools,Maharashtra reopen schools, maharashtra primary schools reopen, maharashtra primary schools reopen date, which classes reopening maharashtra, maharashtra covid news, Mumbai, Maharashtra School Reopen, Maharashtra Primary School Reopen, Maharashtra School Reopen News, Maharashtra School Reopening NewsWhile schools had asked for compulsory attendance, the state government has stated that 100 per cent attendance of students is not mandatory, and parents' consent is necessary for students to attend school. (Representational)

The state government on Monday issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to be followed by schools and parents when classes 1 to 7 in urban centres and classes 1 to 4 in rural areas reopen from December 1.

The SOP detailed guidelines in two divisions — hygiene, cleanliness, teaching preparation before school reopening and rules when classes are in session.

The state government has mandated for the staff including teachers to be fully vaccinated before resuming their duties. All teachers and staff will have to submit RT-PCR test report 48 hours before joining the school. They should be fully vaccinated before coming to duty. Thermal screening of students, teachers and staff is mandatory.

While schools had asked for compulsory attendance, the state government has stated that 100 per cent attendance of students is not mandatory, and parents’ consent is necessary for students to attend school. Parents are instructed to not send their children if they are unwell or if a family member has developed fever/cough symptoms.

“In the first week, teachers should not focus on academics and allow the child to acclimatize back to the school. Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) meetings should be organized virtually to appraise parents of new procedures before school opening and at regular intervals. Also, do not allow children recovered from Covid to be stigmatized,” read the SOP.

To solve queries from parents, many private schools in Mumbai held online as well as in-person sessions over the last two days. Parents attended school for a few days and inspected washrooms, corridors, playground, school gate, etc, where students need to maintain social distance and other protocols.

“We will reopen the school (classes 1 to 7) in a phased manner after taking consent from parents. We have taken parents’ survey and nearly 50 per cent of those are willing to send their children for regular classroom sessions,” said Dr Kavita Nagpal, principal, Orchids International school, Masjid Bunder.

To avoid transmission of the virus, the SOP encourages parents to use personal vehicles to drop children at schools. If school bus services are used, the driver and attendant of the school bus should be fully vaccinated and ensure ventilation in buses and multiple trips to pick up and drop the children. Temperature of 24-30 degrees Celsius should be maintained in air-conditioned buses.

The SOPs call for re-organising classrooms to allow at least 6 feet spacing among children, with only one student seated on a desk bench, redesigning school premises to prevent transmission and setting up ‘school health clinic’ (where possible) that should be run by a trained nurse-aide appointed by the school or a volunteer or doctor-parent or link the schools to the nearest health clinics.

Schools are prohibited from organising functions, competitions, sporting events, which will lead to crowding. Schools have been encouraged to hold online parent-teacher conferences.

The guideline also mandates regular disinfection of toilets, classrooms, benches, door handles and other commonly used property. Students should be encouraged to bring their water bottles, stationery, books.

Teachers should ensure that students follow Covid-appropriate behaviours like properly wearing masks. All teachers and staff should also follow all Covid appropriate behaviour, states the SOP.

In case of bigger class size, the school can conduct classes in two batches and call them on alternate days. Actual classrooms will operate for not more than 3-4 hours, and there will be no lunch breaks. Air conditioned classrooms should maintain temperature between 24 and 30 degrees Celsius.

Schools have been instructed to not hold practical exams and sports activities for classes 1 to 4.

Teachers are directed to keep a watch on children appearing very tired or breathless, or with other Covid-19 symptoms like cough, fever, weakness. Such children should be taken to the nearest clinics and doctors.

The SOP also states that if a child test positive for Covid 19, the entire row, two rows ahead and behind him/her where the student sat in the classroom will be considered as close contact. Children who have come in close contact should be home quarantined for 14 days and be tested for Covid 19 between the 5th and 10th days of quarantine.

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