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COVID-19: Centre has issued advisory for reopening of schools; states to take final call, says Dr VK Paul

New Delhi : The Ministry of Education on Thursday issued revised guidelines for the schools">reopening of schools, allowing the states to take the final call based on their overall COVID situation. The guidelines have been prepared after consultation with states about the schools">reopening of schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking exclusively to ANI, Dr VK Paul, Member (Health) Niti Aayog said, "That (schools">reopening of schools) has now been left to the state government. We explained these guidelines in more detail for the public to know and we hope that using these guidelines, there is a safe way of opening the schools and ensuring physical learning." "These guidelines are from the union government in the form of advisory to the state governments and the states can take the decision based on their own overall situation using these guidelines as a guiding post. So these guidelines have been updated," he added. In the latest guidelines, it is clearly mentioned that students willing to study from home with the consent of their parents may be allowed to do so, allowing flexibility in attendance. Dr Paul further explained, "The Government of India has been bringing out guidelines and has been time to time updating them. These guidelines emphasize how the schools have to be run, according to evidence-based standard operating procedures, discipline that has to be followed. We hope that by using these guidelines, there is a safe way of reopening schools." "Physical distancing, how the feeding session of midday meal has to be conducted, how the classes have conducted, wearing of masks, hand hygiene and so on and so forth. It also emphasizes how school opening has to be a collective effort between the school, the local authorities and the health authorities and also engaging the families." The Education Ministry has said, "We share these guidelines, which are advisory in nature, and states are free to make their own guidelines accordingly. These guidelines contain all SoP for attending classes. Students can opt for online education." School reopening guidelines issued by the central government state, "Ensuring and monitoring proper cleaning and sanitation facilities in the school. Maintaining at least six feet distance between students in the seating plan. Social distancing has to be maintained in the staff rooms, office area, assembly hall, and other common areas. Social distancing must be maintained all the time in hostels. Scanning is to be done before they start staying at the hostels." As a downward trend continues in COVID-19 cases, schools, colleges in several states including Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana started reopening from February 1, while in West Bengal, the schools, colleges were reopened from February 3. The schools, colleges in Uttar Pradesh will be reopened from February 6, while the decision on schools reopening in Delhi will be taken by DDMA on Friday, February 4. According to the Ministry of Education, schools are fully reopened in 11 states and partially reopened in 16 states while nine states have not reopened schools yet.

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