For Reopening Schools, Centre Revises Covid Guidelines. Details Here

For Reopening Schools, Centre Revises Covid Guidelines. Details Here

Gathering and congregations of students have also been allowed as per SOP issued by states.

New Delhi:

States will decide whether schools are required to ask for consent from parents for physical classes, the Centre said today as it issued revised guidelines for health and safety protocols for reopening of schools in view of a consistent decline in Covid cases. Districts having less than five per cent Covid positivity rate can move in the direction of reopening schools but it is up to the state governments to take a call in this regard, it said.

Group activities in music, games, sports and arts may be allowed in accordance with the standard operating procedures during Covid-19 issued by states, it said. 

Schools are fully open in 11 states and closed in nine, while they are reopened for mostly higher classes in 16 states, ministry of education officials informed.

“School reopening has been a concern. Broad advisories have been issued from time to time…Final decisions lie with states,” Dr VK Paul, the head of India’s Covid task force said today.

“We’d like to ensure schools are opened as per SOP because we are still in a pandemic. By implementing SOPs, we can ensure safety. Yes, the nation is concerned that there is a learning loss and schools should reopen at the earliest opportune time. We have come a long way now and teachers are vaccinated but we still have to follow SOPs,” he added.

All the states have vaccinated at least 95 per cent of the teaching and non-teaching staff, while a few states have achieved 100 per cent vaccination coverage for them.

“The pandemic situation has improved. There are states and districts of concern, but overall there is a contraction in the spread of infection which is heartening. There are 268 districts where the positivity is below 5 per cent. And clearly, these districts can move in the direction of non-Covid care and also in the direction of other economic activities as well as school reopening,” Dr Paul said at a press conference.

16 states and union territories have achieved 100 per cent first dose vaccination coverage, and four states/UTs have between 96-99 per cent, the ministry informed. 34 states/UTs in the country are recording a decline in cases and the positivity rate, it added.

“India is witnessing a consistent decrease in daily new cases in the last 14 days. The number of daily active cases is also decreasing rapidly,” the Health Ministry had said today as the country recorded 1,72,433 daily new cases in the last 24 hours, taking the positivity rate to 10.99 per cent. Fresh cases are up by 6.8 per cent from Wednesday’s 1.61 lakh infections. 

Many parents and teachers have been demanding that schools be reopened for physical classes and online classes have been found to be inadequate. Reliance on access to the internet and smart devices has also severely impacted students from financially backward groups and other vulnerable sections with many experts going so far as to call it a “lost generation”. 

The revised guidelines issued by the Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education, suggested preparing bridge courses and implementing them in classrooms.

“Once school reopens, the grade-related syllabus should be undertaken only after the bridge course is completed, so that students can adjust to the changed school environment and do not feel the stress of being left out, especially students who did not have access to alternate means of education,” the guidelines had said.

“In the modified guidelines, the government has also suggested identification of children based on their learning levels so that teachers can focus on students who need additional support,” it added.

The phrase “social distancing” will now be replaced with “physical distancing”. The former phrase had triggered a date when it came into official use as many felt it had negative connotations that could impact social solidarity at a time of a crisis. 

Gathering and congregations of students have also been allowed as per SOP issued by states. 

Specific markings at an adequate distance to manage queues and ensure physical distancing in school premises has also been mandated by the education ministry.

Necessary precautions need to be taken for children with comorbidities and the school’s vehicle drivers and conductors who reside in containment zones will not be allowed to board the vehicles. 

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