The Union health ministry has allowed phase-wise reopening of schools and colleges across the country from September 21.

The health ministry has allowed the reopening of schools for Classes 9 to 12 on a “voluntary basis”.

Schools in the country were closed since March 2020 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak,

The Union health ministry in a notice issued on Tuesday stated that skill or entrepreneurship training too will be permitted from September 21.

According to the notice, only schools outside containment zones will be allowed to reopen from September 21 for senior students of Classes 9-12.

Students, teachers and staff members living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend school, the notice said.

“Prior to resumption of activities, all work areas intended for teaching/demonstrations etc., including laboratories, other common utility areas shall be sanitized with 1% sodium hypochlorite solution, with particular attention to frequently touched surfaces,” said the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) announced by the Union health ministry.

Attendance for students will be voluntary and only to seek guidance from teachers.

Online classes will continue.

Those attending schools will have to wear masks compulsorily.

“This will be subject to the written consent of their parents/guardians. Such visits and teacher–student interaction must be organized in a staggered manner,” said the SOP.

Even for guidance, all senior students will not report to school together.

Guidance activities will be staggered with students being allocated specific time for reporting.

All entry points to the schools will have hand sanitisers and thermal screening for temperature.

To ensure that physical distancing of six feet is maintained, schools have been asked to draw markings on the floor in staff rooms, office areas, the mess, library, cafeteria and also design classroom seating accordingly.

Upon reopening, morning assembly, sports and any event or activity that could lead to crowding will not be allowed.

Sharing of items such as class notes and stationery amongst students will also be prohibited.

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