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Government of the Punjab, School Education Department issued guidelines for safe re-opening of schools in Punjab to prevent spread of Covid-19.

I am directed to refer to Primary & Secondary Healthcare Department's letter No.SO(EP&C)1-8/2020 dated 07.08.2020, which delineates SOPs for schools and educational institutes to prevent Covid-19 spread while resumption of educational activities in the Province. 

It is stated that the Government of Punjab, School Education Department is planning to resume academic activities at public and private schools in Punjab with effect from 15th September (tentative date) in compliance with the decision of National Command and Operation Committee (NCOC) subject to review of the situation by NCOC in September. However, in order to cope with any emergency situation and to check readiness of schools before opening, following guidelines are to be followed for safe opening of schools. The guidelines included in this document are based on the global guidance for safe school reopening including the global Framework for Reopening Schools prepared by UNICEF, UNCESCO, World Bank and UNHCR, working paper for re-opening of schools prepared by PMIU, SOP guide issued by the Office of Minister of Education, Punjab and the National Guidelines for Safe Re-opening of Education Institutes by the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training. Furthermore, a consultation was conducted with a few Chief Executive Officers, representatives from the Directorate of Public Instruction and School Education Department to contextualize the SOPs at the grassroots level.

These guidelines will serve as the minimum set of standard operating procedures that the schools in Punjab need to adhere to. Since there is no one fit for all formula considering the varied spread of COVID19, resources, enrolment, infrastructure, etc across Punjab the districts will be required to adapt and adjust at the local level ensuring the best practices for prevention of spread of COVID19. Scanned with CamScanner 

A) Actions/steps to be taken before re-opening of schools 

  • Sanitize/clean/disinfect the school at least a few days before the school is scheduled to open. 
  • Schools which have been used as quarantine centers or isolation centers should be disinfected with the help and coordination with District Health Authorities. 
  • COVID-19 testing to be conducted for teachers and administrative staff through government hospitals in case they are experiencing any symptoms before reopening of schools. 
  • Schools to ensure that any student or staff member who is reported to have COVID19 symptoms or has been in touch with someone infected with COVID19 remains at home. 
  • Before students return to school, ensure staff and teachers are trained on operating procedures and orient parent committees, school management groups, and other bodies that involve the community. 
  1. orientations should be conducted at least 5 days before schools are reopened.
  2. announcements through mosques about reopening of schools and request to follow SOPs (mandatory wearing of masks, less crowding at entrance at start and end of the school, older members of the family to avoid coming to school, etc) 
  • Ensure that the schools have access to running water and 1 soap per hand washing facility. 
  • Increase the number of hand washing facilities to avoid crowding 
  1. determine how many additional temporary handwashing stations are needed
  2. identify feasible low cost options and install at schools. For example, portable plastic drums 50L/100L with tap and wooden/metal support 
  • Hire sweepers through NSB, and other available resources, such that the schools can be thoroughly disinfected and cleaned every day after the students leave: 
  1. use a disinfectant or a combination of soap and water. 
  2. prioritise cleaning areas by cleaning switches, doorknobs and other frequently touched places first 
  3. small spray bottles with water and commercial disinfectant/antiseptic to be placed in each classroom for daily cleaning of desks, doors, cupboards, etc 
  • Use chalk/tape to draw lines in classrooms ensuring at least 3 feet/1-meter difference between the students. (where possible 6 feet/2 meters is much more preferred) 
  1. number of students in a classroom to be decided based on this rule 
  • Seating plan arranged and displayed at the entrance of the class and in hallways where the classes have been staggered. 
  • Teachers to review the syllabi and timetables to adjust reduced school year and prioritize key learning outcomes. 
  • Prepare guidelines for use of canteens/cafeterias, school transport, school grounds and sports facilities, laboratory and library usage, and other such routines. Prepare teacher and students duty rosters for school cleanliness 
  • Constitute Covid-19 cell in every school comprising headmaster, teachers, parent and a community member/parent for effective planning  
  1. Markaz/tehsil level committees should also be constituted for timely response to any untoward situation 
  • Set up temperature screening point (where possible) and use chalk powder to avoid overcrowding at the entrance. 
  • Inform teachers, parents and community members about policy for wearing masks. 
  • Keep an updated record of contact numbers for all parents in case of any emergency. 
  • School officials should mark the control point area (temperature screening) to indicate where children should stand while waiting to enter school. 
  • Identify a space to temporarily separate sick students and staff without creating stigma and where they can rest until someone can pick them up. 
  • Ensure procurement and provision of the following things at the school level through NSB: 
  1. soaps 
  2. cleaning supplies (commercial disinfectant, detergent, mops, buckets, brushes, latex gloves, vipers, etc) 
  3. infrared thermometer where possible 
  4. physical distance marking tapes/chalk powder
  5. if required, tents to provide shade for classes being held outside along with pedestal fans in hot regions 
  6. Hand sanitizer alcohol >60% 500ml (1 for each classroom) 
B) Actions/steps to be taken after re-opening of schools 
  • Staff to be deputed at the entrance gate to support safe school entry/exit in high enrolment schools. 
  • Avoid crowding at the gate in the high-enrollment schools by using multiple gates for student entry and exit wherever possible. 
  • Maintain safe distance among students/individuals during entry and exit by using chalk powder. 
  • Daily temperature screening (where possible) at entrance and record maintained for students/ teachers/ staff sent home due to high temperature. 
  • Teach and reinforce the use of masks and hand hygiene practices i.e.: 
  1. Soap and water 
  2. At least 20 seconds 
  3. On arrival, before and after meals and snacks, after bathroom breaks 
  • Discourage sharing of items amongst students especially books and stationary 
  • Ban large gatherings: 
  1. no school assembly 
  2. no large events (milads, August 14th celebrations) 
  3. no gatherings with more than 10 - 15 outside of class 
  4. no spectators for sports 
  5. no contact sports or sports that cannot be performed at a distance from others 
  6. no recess breaks in high enrolment schools and lunch at desk policy where possible (otherwise recess breaks to be staggered such that only one class gets a break at one time) 
  • Daily Health Monitoring and reporting by Head Teachers, to competent authority, regarding temperature checks, monitoring of corona related symptoms and other related updates of their students. 
  • Appoint COVID Monitor (student) in each classroom to ensure implementation of SOPs 
  • Have teachers orient students on new school protocols in each classroom 
  1. emphasize on what to do if they feel ill 
  2. promote safe and healthy behaviors
  3. teach cough and sneeze etiquette such that students know how to cover coughs and sneezes with elbows (5 minutes at the beginning of each day) 
  4. non-contact greetings should also be advised 
  5. teach how to make cloth mask at home 
  • Keep windows, vents and doors open to ensure proper ventilation. 
  • No visitor to enter the premises during school hours 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, desks, toys, supplies, light switches, door frames, play equipment, teaching aids used by children, etc. 
  • Waive the requirement for a doctor's note to excuse absences when there is community transmission of COVID-19. 
  • Develop a mechanism where parents of the students, who have been in contact with a COVID-19 case, inform the school and stay home for 14 days. The school officials should notify public health authorities in case of a positive COVID-19 case. 
  • Instruct the affected individuals not to return to school while they are sick and for two weeks after they recover. People to inform include:
  1. Parents and children (in the case of a child with COVID-19 or where another household member has –°OVID-19) 
  2. Staff member (who either has –°OVID-19 or has a household member with COVID-19) 
C) Checklists 

In order to ensure the implementation of above guidelines pertaining to safe re-opening of schools checklists are enclosed as Appendix-I, II & III.

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