Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Bhubaneswar: After a hiatus of over nine months due to the Covid-19 pandemic induced restrictions, schools for classes X and XII across Odisha reopened today with proper social distancing and all the required Covid-19 safety norms.

A detailed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has been adopted for reopening of all government, government aided and private schools across the State.

As per the directives of the State government, the schools have to strictly adhere to the Covid-19 protocols like thermal screening of students, hand sanitising, wearing of masks and social distancing in classrooms.

According to sources, the classes have been divided and seating arrangements had been made to ensure social distancing with a maximum of 25 students permitted in each classroom. Each student has been assigned a specific seat in the class as is usually done during examinations. Recess will be allowed in a staggered manner and teachers have been deputed to make sure that students don’t huddle.

As per the SOP, students will attend schools with the written consent of parents but attendance will not be enforced. The students identified with Covid-19 symptoms will be quarantined in the isolation room of the school and will be treated by the local hospital immediately. All the classrooms will be sanitised every day after the closure of the school.

Prior to reopening of schools, all work areas including furniture, libraries, storage places, water tanks, toilets and other common areas have been sanitised. Schools without 100% access to potable drinking water and adequate functional toilets for all students have not been allowed to reopen. Hostel facilities have not been opened.

School provided transportation has been discouraged to reduce risk. Parents have to ensure they take responsibility of the child’s commute to school. No student will be coerced to come to school. Only those parents and students who feel comfortable attending school should do so.

For ensuring social distancing and queue management inside and at the entrance of the premises, specific markings on the floor/ground with a gap of six feet has been made.

Physical distancing has also been maintained in staff rooms (by earmarking seats for teachers at an adequate distance), and other common areas (mess, libraries, cafeterias, etc.) with relevant markings as required.

If available, temporary space or outdoor spaces (in case of pleasant weather) will be utilized for conducting classes, keeping in view the safety and security of the children and physical distance protocols.

As per the notification, only the schools outside containment zones shall be allowed to reopen. Students, teachers, employees living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend the school. Students, teachers, employees shall be advised not to visit these areas falling within containment zones. District Collectors will direct the relevant schools to immediately shut down in case their zone is declared as a containment zone.

The students of standards X and XII will be given 100 days of classroom teaching before they appear the annual examinations in May. The classes will be held on Saturdays and Sundays too.

The annual board exam of Class X students will be held from May 3 to 15, while the Council of Higher Secondary Education will hold exams for Class XII students from May 15 to June 11.

(By Suryakant Jena)