Parental consent, flexible attendance among SOPs for school reopening

New Delhi: Students can attend schools only with the written consent of parents and provision for flexible attendance by students are among the guidelines issued by the Government for the reopening of schools.
As schools prepare to reopen after a prolonged six-month break, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOPs) were released by the Department of School Education and Literacy here. In its Unlock 5 announcement, the Home Ministry had said that states and Union Territories can decide when to reopen schools and coaching centres.
According to the guidelines, schools should take the consent of parents/guardians before their child/ward begins attending schools and should also offer the option of studying from home, saying that students may opt for online classes, rather than physically attending the same. It provides flexibility in attendance norms.
Precautions for preparing and serving mid-day meal has also been laid down in SOP by the Ministry of Education.
Schools must ensure proper sanitisation of equipment and classrooms and were advised to form task forces for ensuring hygiene and quick response to emergency situations.
Further, physical distancing must be maintained at schools and students and teachers must wear face masks at all times.
The guidelines lays down norms for social distancing, ensuring availability of full-time trained health care attendant/nurse/doctor and counsellor to take care of physical and mental health of the students and regular health check-up of both students and teachers.
On academic aspects related to the delivery of education, schools will be required to make a comprehensive academic calendar for the whole year, focusing on the learning outcomes, following the alternative calendar prepared by the NCERT.
Schools must also ensure smooth transition from home-based schooling to formal schooling.
The guidelines said that the states and UTs can develop their own SOP as deemed fit.
However, it wants focus on the most vulnerable students (homeless/migrated students, students with disabilities, and students directly affected by COVID-19 through a family death or hospitalisation), to prioritise their needs.
Besides, children can also be sensitised about the pandemic and teachers must discuss with the students the clear roadmap of the curriculum, the modes of learning to be adopted (through face to face instruction/ individual assignments or portfolios/group-based project work/group presentations) to be covered, and the time to be taken for the same, dates of school-based assessments, breaks among others.
It said divergent use of teaching resources shall have to be relied upon, keeping physical/social distancing and other safety norms in mind.