The Union Ministry of Education on Monday issued fresh guidelines for reopening of schools and educational institutes after October 15. The guidelines are to be followed during Unlock Phase 5 in accordance with the Department of School Education and Literacy (DoSEL). States and UTs may adopt or adapt the standard operating procedure (SoP) stated by the Ministry as per local context and requirements. In respect of reopening of schools and coaching institutions, the guidelines said that respective States and UT Governments may take a decision after October 15 in a graded manner. The decision would be made based on the local situation and only after consulting respective schools and educational institutions management. 

The guidelines issued by the Education Ministry for reopening of schools comprised of two parts: SOP for health, hygiene, and safety and for learning with physical and social distancing. Stressing on health, hygiene and safety preparation for the schools before reopening, the guidelines stated that proper cleaning, sanitisation, hand wash and disinfection provision is a must. The directive also mentions the protocols for the seating plan, transport, and precaution at entry and exit points.

In a major relief for students, it stated there is flexibility in attendance and students may opt for online classes and students can attend schools only after the written consent of their parents or guardians. Stressing on safety protocols which are to be followed after the re-opening of schools, the guidelines made it mandatory to maintain social distancing norms and minimum 6 feet gap. Wearing of masks without fail is mandatory in the classroom, laboratory and other areas. There will be proper screening before entry and exit points into the school. 

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According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, SOP is issued for safety precautions during preparation and serving mid-day meal in schools. In an important announcement, it stated that alternative academic calendar of NCERT may be followed and students would get no assessment till up to 2-3 weeks of school reopening. Schools can continue with their online teaching. Role and responsibility of the State, UT Education Departments, school heads, teachers, parents and guardians and different stakeholders are stated as well as United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), safety guidelines, will be provided for schools going students and their parents.

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