The Ministry of Health has allowed schools, colleges, and higher education institutes to reopen from September 21, however, the new session at educational institutes will be different from anything we know so far. The changes are far-ranging than wearing masks or maintaining social distancing. Here are key things you need to know:

Who will be allowed: Not everyone will be called back to the campus right away. For schools, it is the students of classes 9 to 12 who are given an option to attend classes offline. Schools will open only as a support for students who do not have access to online education or are facing issues. For colleges too, students enrolled in skill institutes, PhD scholars, postgraduate students, and those having practical aspects to their studies will be called to campus first as the institutes reopen in a phased manner.

What will be the mode of education: Neither schools nor colleges have been asked to move to physical teaching. Both will have to continue the online education and a hybrid model will be followed. In the official notice, the Ministry of Health has asked both schools and colleges to revamp their academic calendars in order to avoid overcrowding of the campuses. “Academic scheduling should have intermix of regular classroom teaching and online teaching/assessments,” as per the standard operating procedures (SOPs).

What will be open access: The shared access areas will not be available at all times. While the laboratories will be open, the apprentice or the equipment will be kept at a six feet distance. Gymanisums will be open with limited capacities and swimming pools in colleges and schools will be closed. For schools, congregations including the morning prayer assemblies will not be allowed. Sharing of objects between the students or between students and teachers is also prohibited.

Which colleges and schools will open: Only those schools and colleges which are outside of containment zones will be allowed to operate, as per the government rules. Students, teachers, and employees living in containment zones will not be allowed inside the campuses. Employees who are at high risk including elderly people, pregnant mothers, people having diseases cannot be called to the campus.

How to reopen: Before reopening all the campuses will have to undergo a thorough cleaning, especially those campuses which were converted in COVID centres. Institutes will have to clean their campuses with substances having one per cent sodium hypochlorite solutions. The institutes reopening have been asked to keep a backup stock of personal protection including face covers, masks, visors, hand sanitisers etc. Campuses are also asked to avoid cash transactions and e-wallets etc may be promoted.

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