Hand wash, sanitization, masks and social distancing will be on the strict check-list for students, teachers and mid-day meal cooks in a bid to fight the Covid-19 pandemic after schools reopen in Jharkhand, according to the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for schools which was unveiled during a webinar on ‘Covid-19-Awareness and Preparedness in Schools’ here on Wednesday.
Assembly prayers, sports or any other gatherings in schools will be postponed. Besides, schools will have to ensure a certain distance between two students in a classroom and there should be an appropriate gap between two benches, officials said while reading out the SOP.
Jharkhand Education Project Council (JEPC), with technical support of UNICEF, has developed e-modules of SOPs for school reopening. These SOPs are expected to help schools in implementing, communicating and monitoring the new way of practicing social and personal hygiene, and protocols for sanitizing school premises.
Secretary of school education and literacy department Rahul Sharma said, “Under Unlock-2.0, schools and colleges will be shut till July 31. However, the Centre gives relaxations at regular intervals. The Centre might allow some states, where Covid-19 cases are comparatively low, to open schools. So, we should be prepared in advance. These SOPs will help spread awareness among teachers, students and parents much before opening of the schools.”
Schools have been closed in Jharkhand since March 17, almost for 100 days now, which has resulted in huge education loss to students, he said.
Jharkhand has around 45,000 schools, including 35,000 government schools where more than 50 lakh students study taught by 1.10 lakh teachers.
Providing a normal and secure atmosphere to students and teachers after reopening of the schools will prove to be a mammoth task for the government, experts said. Over 3,500 schools are being used as quarantine centres and would need intense sanitization.
In a bid to set up hand wash units, maintain hygiene and cleanliness, the state government will have to spend on safety measures for over 35,000 government schools.
“We need masks, thermal guns, hand washing units and sanitizers on a large scale. We will request corporate units, banks and civil societies if they can help schools in their catchment areas,” Sharma said.
JEPC state project director, Uma Shankar Singh, said, ‘’While continuing to provide education, what matters is our ability to broaden our planning at a technical level to handle the pandemic when schools reopen. Therefore, all teachers have to compulsorily undergo Covid-19 training through e-learning module and be certified.’’
Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, representative of UNICEF India, said the SOPs would serve as a milestone in Jharkhand and UNICEF is committed to support its implementation, especially the monitoring and capacity building of teachers and supervisors.’’
Disinfecting school buildings, classrooms, benches and desks, hand washing units, mid-day meal rooms with sodium hypochlorite every day
Arrangement of alcohol based hand sanitizers or soap at entry point of the schools
Ensuring social distancing at classroom and while taking mid-day meal
Mask mandatory for students, teachers
Postponement of assembly prayer or sports for now
Flexible attendance and sick leave policy
Keeping an eye on students health