Covid-19 SHTF recommends reopening schools under certain conditions

ITANAGAR, Oct 22: Following the order of the union home affairs ministry regarding reopening of schools while following the Covid-19 SOPs, the state health task force (SHTF) for Covid-19 in a virtual meeting on 19 October recommended various guidelines for reopening the schools in the state.

In the first phase, the SHTF recommended allowing reopening of schools for Classes 8-12 and higher educational institutes of the state, along with hostel facilities, “subject to the condition that all classrooms and places of use are well-ventilated and arrangement for handwashing is available.”

The SHTF said that online/distance learning will continue to be the preferred mode of teaching for Classes below 8 and others.

It said that if students of Class 8 and above prefer to attend online classes, they may be permitted to do so.

“Students may attend schools only with the written consent of parents, and attendance must not be enforced and must depend entirely on parental consent,” the SHTF recommended.

Other recommendations of the SHTF include holding of a virtual consultative meeting between the education department and school committees, district administrations and district health authorities before reopening of schools “for sensitization, awareness, referral mechanisms, and bio-medical waste management.”

The SHTF also recommended virtual meeting between school authorities and the parents before reopening schools, and conducting awareness programmes on Covid-19 protocols at government and private schools to supplement the IEC activities being carried out by the DHS.

Moreover, it said, “the health, hygiene and safety protocols as issued by the DoSEL of the union education ministry should be followed by the schools and higher educational institutes, in coordination with the district administrations.”

The virtual meeting was attended by Joint Health & Family Welfare Secretary Mamta Riba, DHS Dr M Lego, and members of the SHTF.