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Delhi: Allowed to reopen, private schools seek parents’ guidance for the way ahead

According to guidelines, schools outside containment zones will be allowed to reopen from September 21 for students of Classes 9 to 12. The attendance is to be voluntary, only for the purpose of extra guidance while online classes continue.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |
Updated: September 17, 2020 9:23:42 am

Private schools in the city have started reaching out to parents of senior students to assess how many of them would be willing to send their children to school to seek guidance from their teachers, as permitted by the Union Health Ministry, from September 21.

According to guidelines, schools outside containment zones will be allowed to reopen from September 21 for students of Classes 9 to 12. The attendance is to be voluntary, only for the purpose of extra guidance while online classes continue.

In preparation for this, schools are now trying to assess how many parents will be willing to be part of this. “We have formulated a consent form and sent it to parents through our PTA representatives and signatures of both parents will be required. The Health Department has provided us with guidelines which will be kept in mind, but at the micro-level schools will also create their own SOPs depending on the number of students we are likely to see according to parental response,” said The Indian School principal Tania Joshi.

The SOP issued by the health department includes precautions such as sanitising all work areas in the schools with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution, staggered reporting of students to school, hand sanitiser and thermal screening at all entry points, markings on floors to ensure physical distancing and prohibition of sharing of items.

However, Jyoti Bose, principal Springdales School Dhaula Kuan, said the confidence of parents will be the most crucial part of the re-opening process. “We can have everything in place according to the SOP, but for now everything depends on the response we get. At the moment, most parents are petrified, especially looking at the number of cases in the past week. Classes are going excellently online, students are having their doubts cleared by teachers on Microsoft Teams. So it’s for parents to decide whether they feel it’s necessary to be physically present in school and we will prepare accordingly,” she said.

Even as schools try to assess demand from the side of the parents, a set of schools have already formulated a detailed 48-page SOP to prepare for eventual re-opening for all grades, from 1 to 12. Formulated by a committee of principals of Indraprastha International School Dwarka, Mount Abu Public School Rohini, Venkateshwar Global School Rohini, DAV Public School Pushpanjali Enclave, and Dev Samaj Modern School Sukhdev Vihar, the SOP covers details on diverse areas including planning, infrastructure upgradation, transportation, sports and recreation management, and medical emergencies.

“Since schools will eventually have to re-open and the only way is to take complete precautions, we framed these guidelines to prepare ourselves early so we can be fully geared when the time comes. We are trying our best to prepare not just schools but everyone involved in the process, including parents, since we need to build their level of confidence. Any school which wants to prepare and need a point of reference can draw from it,” said S K Bhattacharya, President of Action Committee of Unaided Recognised Private Schools, an association of 400 private schools under which the SOP has been created.

The SOP includes training sessions for all stakeholders, teaching and administrative staff, security staff, transportation staff, students and parents; prominent signages throughout the school complexes reminding students to maintain precautions; no visitors in school premises, 3-4 square metres distance in classrooms; lunch-boxes to be brought from home and eaten at desks; 2-3 students in the washroom at a time; different gates for entry and exit for students travelling to schools through different means to spread them out. It also includes precautions on school buses including 20-25 children only on a 55 seater bus, marking seats with tape to prevent children from sitting close to each other, wiping the bus after each run, thermal screening before entry, tissues and hand sanitiser in the buses, and leaving windows open.

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