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The Meghalaya government has issued a slew of guidelines for reopening of schools from December 1 so that the students are not infected by Covid-19.

The government in a statement issued on Friday said that the school authorities are empowered to design a daily plan with a restriction on the duration of classes to 30 minutes and a break of five minutes after each period.

A blended approach of three days dedicated to classes and two days for home assignment can be considered to reduce the possible exposure to COVID-19, the statement said.

Despite schools being given the green light to reopen, the government has, even so, encouraged the online method of learning.

It stated that if students prefer online learning to classroom learning, they may be allowed to do so.

The schools are also at liberty to either reopen for normal classes or continue with the existing arrangements or arrange students in groups (odd/even roll numbers etc) if the enrolment is large.

According to the government order, attendance must not be enforced but should depend entirely on parental consent.

The government further instructed school managing committees (SMCs) to consult with the stakeholders prior to the reopening.

On receiving views and suggestions, the SMCs will then prepare a plan of action including awareness programme on COVID-19 for all teaching and non-teaching staff, sanitization of school premises, classrooms, toilets etc.

In the event of any suspected COVID-19 cases, the school authorities have been empowered to close down the establishment in consultation with health officials.

During schooldays, state helpline numbers besides numbers of local health authorities are required to be displayed for the need to contact during any emergency.

Posters or standees on preventive measures about COVID-19 also need to be displayed in the campus, the statement added.

School buses have been exempted from the odd-even rules.

However, regular cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces have to be ensured.

Students have been advised not to be involved in any of the cleaning activities for health safety reasons.

Adherence to all health protocols including respiratory etiquettes, regular washing of hands, wearing of face masks, as well as periodical sanitisation of school premises, has been made mandatory.

If an individual is sick or symptomatic, he/she should be advised to stay home and follow the necessary protocols.

As per the guidelines, parents will be solely responsible for maintaining students’ hygiene.

The government further said that classes 6-8 have been recommended for full opening in rural areas but partially in urban areas.

Partial opening covers schools under urban/semi-urban towns of Shillong such as Jowai, Nongpoh, Tura, Byrnihat, Jorabat and Khanapara area.

Partial opening entails only consultations, assignments submission, discussion with teachers/counselors in the school premises, it elaborated.

Classes 1-5 have been recommended for a partial opening in rural areas and closure in urban/semi-urban areas of Shillong, Tura, Jowai, Nongpoh, Khanapara and Jorabat.

The JNV schools, however, have been recommended to open fully for classes 9-12.

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