After facing closure for five months in wake of Covid-19 pandemic, city-based schools are gearing up to reopen from September 21 following the state home department’s order under Unlock 4.0.

Principal secretary education Sanjay Kumar clarified that as per MHA guidelines, all schools, colleges and coaching institutes will remain closed till September 30.

Patna district magistrate Kumar Ravi has permitted schools outside containment zones for calling students of Class 9 to 12 who voluntarily wish to visit schools for seeking academic guidance with the written consent of their guardians from September 21.

The ministry of health and family welfare on Tuesday issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) including staggering of the classrooms, no sharing of objects, separate timing slots, physical distancing and sanitisation of premises for the phased reopening of schools.

Meanwhile, several city schools and their management were busy on Wednesday to chalk out a plan for partial reopening—for the first time after pandemic—and implementing precautionary measures.

CBSE’s city coordinator Rajiv Ranjan Sinha, who is also the principal of Baldwin Academy, said, “We have arranged for a thermal screening of students at the entrance gate. Teachers and other staff will have to undergo training to maintain 6 feet distance during the interaction. Since students will visit the school after a long time, they may feel like hugging or coming close to their classmates out of excitement. Teachers have been asked to monitor students and prevent them from coming in physical contact or share objects, lunch etc.”

He said, “School campus, classroom, common touch surface will be thoroughly sanitised a day prior to reopening. Seating arrangements maintain a proper gap will be made. The stock of fresh masks will be kept so that it can be provided to students in case of a tear or any damage to their mask.”

“Reopening of school was much needed to compensate the academic loss. The students who are going to appear in board exams need proper guidance. Despite online classes, physical classroom teaching is required for better performance”, added Sinha.

Similarly, Principal of St. Michael’s High School, Fr Armstrong Edison, said, “We will thoroughly sanitise the campus before calling students. Our school has been made an exam centre for NEET, so staff training for handling the crowd is going-on. This training will also help during the partial reopening.”

About how many students will be allowed to visit the school in a single day, Edison said, “It’s uncertain to predict how many students wish to visit the school. After consulting students, a roster will be prepared to keep SOPs in mind.”

Parents in the city evoked mixed response for sending their wards to school.

Rupali Singh, whose daughter studies in Class 9, said, “I am yet to gain confidence. What if the school fails to implement precautionary measures? Children often remove the mask when they feel suffocated.”

Kamlesh Gupta, whose son studies in Class 10, said, “Online teaching is not suitable for every subject like mathematics. Combination of an online class and offline doubt-clearance class would yield better results. Already six months of the current academic session has passed. In the absence of proper guidance, the academic performance of students is likely to be impacted.”

All educational institutions in the state have been closed since mid-March due to nationwide lockdown.

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