Explained: Guidelines for reopening of educational institutions in Delhi

Delhi schools reopening: Students who are not comfortable with attending physical classes will have the option to continue with the online mode.

Ahead of the reopening of schools, colleges and coaching centres from September 1, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) Monday issued a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) outlining the precautionary measures to be adopted by these educational institutions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The SOP broadly follows the recommendations made by a sub-committee under the DDMA that had submitted a report to the Delhi government, suggesting that schools and colleges, which have been shut since April 9 due to the second wave of Covid infections, be permitted to reopen in phases.

Accordingly, a decision to resume offline classes for students in grades IX to XII, as well as colleges, coaching centres and training institutes from September 1 was taken in a meeting of the DDMA last Friday.  A decision on whether physical classes will be resumed for students below Class IX will be taken after assessing the first phase of reopening.

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For now, students will require the permission of their parents or guardians to attend physical classes. Those who are not comfortable with attending physical classes will have the option to continue with the online mode.

What changes can students expect after they return to schools and colleges?

Considering the fact that physical classes are resuming under the shadow of Covid, which continues to pose a risk despite the dip in cases and deaths, the first change that will greet students at the entry gates of schools and colleges itself will be in the form of guards allowing them inside only after thermal scanning, sprinkling of hand sanitizers, and ensuring that they are wearing proper face masks.

Any student showing Covid symptoms such as fever, cough, headache, fatigue, loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, body ache, sore throat, runny nose, nausea and diarrhoea will be taken to a quarantine room. Such cases will be reported to the heads of the schools.

Parents have been requested not to send children showing Covid symptoms to schools. Schools have been directed to install sufficient wash basins for regular hand washing.

How will social distancing be ensured?

Since each classroom will operate with 50 per cent seating capacity, school managements will have to draw up time-tables according to the capacity and occupancy limit.

Consequently, only alternate seats will be occupied and timings of classes will be arranged in a staggered manner.

In fact, even the timings of lunch breaks will be staggered to avoid overcrowding and will be held preferably at open spaces as students will have to remove masks while eating.

Moreover, more than one entry/exit gate will be opened for students and staffers. A gap of at least one hour will be maintained between the end of morning and start of evening shifts.

Students will be guided not to share lunch, books, copies and stationary items. School premises will be regularly sanitized.

What about vaccination?

The heads of schools, colleges and other institutes have been directed to ensure “at the top priority” that all teaching and non-teaching staff are vaccinated.

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has said that about 98 per cent of teachers in Delhi government schools have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Will vaccination and ration drives in schools continue?

Yes, the vaccination and ration relief drives in designated schools will continue.

However, the SOP states that the area or part of the school being used for those purposes, will be demarcated from the area which will be used for academic activities.

The concerned district administration will cordon off the area demarcated for vaccination or food distribution with separate entry/exit gates and civil defense volunteers to avoid mingling of students with outsiders.

Will school buses be operational?

The SOP states all vehicles (buses, vans etc) used for transportation of students/staff should be sanitized regularly and heads of schools/institutes shall ensure that all eligible transportation staff (drivers, attendants) are vaccinated.

Currently, public buses in the city are allowed to operate with 100 per cent seating, cabs with maximum two passengers and maxi cabs, which usually serve as school vans, with maximum five occupants.

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