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Thursday, Sep 10, 2020 15:00 [IST]

Last Update: Thursday, Sep 10, 2020 09:38 [IST]

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In the backdrop of the ongoing 'Unlock 4', partial resumption of activities in schools for students of classes 9-12 will be allowed from 21 September, the union health ministry on Tuesday.

The ministry has issued a set of guidelines for holding these classes. It is meant to serve as a guide to schools on the safety measures they need to take during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. These Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) follow the centre’s Unlock-4 guidelines to allow schools to reopen in areas outside containment zones. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued social distancing guidelines including the use of face masks, maintaining six feet distance between students, following respiratory etiquettes, installation of AarogyaSetu application “wherever feasible” and prohibition of spitting.

Students, teachers and employees shall also be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zones as per the health ministry guidelines adding that the schools that were used as quarantine centres will be properly sanitized and deep cleaned before partial functioning is resumed. Among those present, open-air interactions would be preferable, should the weather permit. Masks are mandatory, and events such as assembly and games that can lead to overcrowding would be a no-no. Of course, students need to have the written consent of their parents or guardians to attend school. Only asymptomatic people (teachers, employees and students) will be allowed in the school premises as per the guidelines. If a teacher/employee/student is found to be symptomatic, he/she should be referred to nearest health centre, the SOPs state.

However, the guidelines also mentioned that online and distance learning shall continue to be in operation and is encouraged. The educational institutes across the country have shifted to online mode to continue the teaching-learning process during the Covid-19 pandemic.

There has been a consensus amongst parents and teachers on attending schools ever since the educational institutions were closed following the first phase of Lockdown. It was not to be done, we all agreed, no matter what. Our overall exposure to the risk of corona contraction has gone exponential since then, what with India still headed for worse. We could even end up as the world’s worst hit.

It’s true that a lot of Indian households are either webless or poorly wired, and have sadly been losing out on education under the corona siege. Perhaps it’s time to let people make their own choices on school attendance. Senior students have board exams coming up, too. And many parents and their teenagers may have concluded that these plus points outweigh the risks of getting back on campus. But schools and teens being what they are, the dangers also ought to be evident to all, even families deprived of connectivity. Allowing greater public choice is the need of the hour. The threat is still there.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi