Notwithstanding the Omicron variant threat, the Maharashtra government has decided to go ahead with its decision to reopen of schools for Classes 1 to 4 in rural areas and 1 to 7 in urban areas from December 1. The state public health department issued guidelines on Monday.
Schools will have to follow strict Covid-19 guidelines -- proper sanitisation of classrooms, masking by students, teachers and staff and mandatory thermal screening will be part of the measures in place. School surroundings must be kept clean and regular sanitisation is advised. Everyone is advised to wash their hands frequently to eliminate the risk of any possible infection.
Schools have been asked to ensure that there is a distance of at least six feet between students at all times. The public health department has asked schools to follow Covid-19 protocols issued by the state and Central government.
The school education department has also issued the government resolution on the reopening of schools from December 1. The department has said that only fully vaccinated teachers and non-teaching staff of the school concerned should be allowed in the institution or office.
School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad said, “We are happy to welcome students from Standard 1 onwards back to school on December 1. Safe resumption of schools is being considered to ensure all students have equal access to education amid the pandemic.” She has appealed to all schools to strictly follow these instructions.
According to the notification, there should be a maximum of 15-20 students in a class and they should opt for frequent handwashing with soap and use masks. Students must be in attendance on alternate days, for morning or evening sessions. Schools must prioritise core subjects of study. In case of students exhibiting symptoms, schools must refer them to a medical officer or the nearest health centre.
Adequate arrangements should be made for handwashing, considering the number of students and teachers. Any step that will lead to crowding should be avoided, it added.
Schools should reopen in a staggered manner, the guidelines further stated. Teachers of the concerned schools should arrange for accommodation in the same city or village if possible or they should exercise due care while using the public transport system.
Students should be warmly welcomed by teachers, the guidelines recommend. The respective education officers should visit the designated schools to review and provide guidance where necessary and report the visit to the divisional deputy director of education.
Meanwhile, the Nashik municipal commissioner has decided to postpone the reopening of schools for Classes 1 to 4 amid looming fears of the Omicron variant and a decision is expected only after December 10.