Focus on connectedness and stress-free learning at schools

School administrations should designate staff members to define and execute the standard operating procedures (SOPs) in tune with instructions given by the local administration before reopening classes, according to โ€˜guidelines on school education in COVID-19 timesโ€™ issued by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP).

The policy should include redressing the curriculum, curtailing school hours, staggering students and disinfection and hygiene protocols. School reopening should mainly aim for school connectedness, psychosocial well-being and stress-free learning, they say.

The guidelines say that the school authorities should recruit adequate number of staffers, including counsellors and medical nurses. The policy of โ€˜Staying home if not wellโ€™ should be in place for everyone. The entire school premises should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitised.

New hygiene rules should be displayed in a pictorial and child-friendly manner on the premises. All rooms, including classrooms, staff rooms, and libraries, should be airy and well-ventilated. Furniture should be arranged with adequate spacing. The reception area should preferably have plexiglass guards. Toilet facilities and free flowing potable water should be made amply available.

A sick room should be identified and kept ready with basic medicines and personal protection equipment (PPE). The authorities should share authentic scientific information regarding COVID-19 (symptoms, physical distancing, proper wearing of mask, hand sanitisation, coughing and sneezing etiquettes, and refraining from touching eyes, nose, mouth, and face) with all staff members, parents, and students through mails and telephone.

It should be made clear to staff and teachers that school reopening is mainly for school connectedness, psychosocial well-being and stress-free learning. Schools should try to imbibe a sense of social responsibility required in the pandemic times among its staff, parents, and students, according to the IAP guidelines.

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