PESHAWAR: The elementary and secondary education department on Tuesday issued standard operating procedures for the functioning of all government and private schools after reopening next month.
The educational institutions, which have been closed for around six months due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, will resume classes on Sept 15 as decided by the National Command and Operation Centre.
According to SOPs issued by the education department, the schools will ensure that the children’s desks are at least one meter apart.
One option to prevent crowded classrooms is that classes will be held in two shifts the same day with school hours stretched out between early morning and late afternoon with staggered start, break time and staggered day end.
SOPs specify Covid-19 precautionary steps on campus
The other two options for schools include the splitting of shifts between days in a week with one group showing up from Monday to Wednesday and the other from Thursday to Saturday, and the holding of shifts between weeks with one group turning up on one week and the other the next week.
The SOPs also said community leaders should be engaged for alternative learning spaces like hujras, large house verandas and spacious rooms with proper ventilation.
According to them, the schools should ensure that students don’t touch each other, avoid sports involving body contact, don’t share food or drink from the same cup, and bring in own food.
The department asked the government and private schools to check sale of cooked and junk food inside and outside campus, and decrease gathering of parents and students at drop-off and pick-up times.
The educational institutions were also told to check body temperature of staff members and students at entrance and return those with more than 99 degrees Fahrenheit temperature.
Under SOPs, they will ensure school cleaning on a daily basis with proper waste management practices and arrange orientation of students and parents on new school protocols, including school opening and closing time.
Staff members and students will wear face masks and wash hands multiple times during the day, while the teachers will help children aged between four and seven years wash hands and follow hygiene practices.
The schools will not hold morning assembly and prevent student gatherings during recess.
The department also asked schools to act against parents and students not wearing cloth masks, washing hands and maintaining physical distance.
“Exposed or symptomatic students should be sent off for at least seven days, while the students who test positive for Covid-19 and their class group should be sent off for at least 14 days. The school management or assigned faculty member should liaise with the government’s health authorities,” declared SOPs.
According to the department’s guidelines, the schools will share and display clear, concise and accurate information about Covid-19 and promote self-care strategies among students, their families and staff members.
The department also instructed schools to limit the number of visitors and make arrangements to handle their matters at entrance and allow them to go to the head teacher or relevant office under extreme situations.
Under SOPs, the schools, whose adjoining population has high incidence of Covid-19, will be flagged as red, those in the localities with moderate virus incidence yellow and those with low or no cases green.
Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2020