Health guidelines for reopening primary schools finalised
The ministry of primary and mass education has finalised a plan for reopening primary schools across the country—which have remained closed since March 17 due to Covid-19—and prepared the necessary health guidelines in this regard. According to the plan, only two students will be allowed to sit on each bench at a classroom, everyone in schools (students, teachers and other staffers) will have to wear masks, and there will have to be arrangements in all schools for hand washing and measuring of body temperatures.
While we understand the importance of reopening schools as the academic activities of about two crore primary students of more than one lakh primary schools and kindergartens have been hampered due to the pandemic, we also think that before taking the final decision, the government should consider all the risks associated with it.
There are over 65,500 government primary schools across the country. With many of these schools having only one classroom, how will they ensure that students maintain physical distancing? Also, many of the schools have around 80 students in each classroom. Will it be possible to reserve one bench for two students in reality? Also, who will monitor all these health protocols at schools? And, needless to say, additional funds will be needed to ensure proper health hygiene at schools. Who will bear these additional costs?
Moreover, parents are confused as to what to do if schools reopen at a time when the Covid-19 infection rate is showing no sign of dropping. Although primary schools are not reopening at least until October 3, according to a previous government announcement, we assume that the decision will come soon since the government has already finalised the health guidelines.
Now we hope that the government will complete all the groundwork needed to reopen educational institutions without jeopardising the health of students and their families. All the government primary schools should have proper infrastructures for maintaining the health guidelines. The government also needs to conduct awareness campaigns to educate the students as well as teachers about the health rules. So, finalising the health guidelines for reopening the schools is just the first step; the more challenging task for the government lies ahead: preparing all the schools in a way that they can actually operate following the health directives, ensuring the safety of all students.