The Union Ministry of Education on Monday issued guidelines for reopening of schools, colleges and educational institutions in the country.

Under Unlock 5.0, the central government has allowed schools and colleges to reopen from October 15 in a limited manner. The states and union territories will have the authority to decide whether to resume schools and college from the next week.

“States/UTs to prepare their own SOP regarding health and safety precaution for reopening of schools based on the SOP to be issued by DoSEL, @EduMinOfIndia. States/UTs may adopt or adapt the SOP as per local context and requirements,” Union Education Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said.

Students can attend school but on a voluntary basis. Students will attend schools only with the written consent of parents. However, teachers and students who live in containment zones are not to attend schools from next week onwards.

The SOPs have the also given the students the option for online classes and schools will have to ensure flexibility in attendance. Schools are to ensure proper sanitisation of classrooms and equipment. Schools have been asked to form task forces for emergency care support and proper hygiene. The schools are to follow staggered entry and exit timings or separate gates.

The guidelines said that social distancing must be maintained and students and teachers have to wear face masks at all time and other coronavirus preventive measures such as sanitising hands and thermal scanners for screening the body temperature for all is mandatory at the school entrance.

Schools are allowed to  make a “comprehensive academic calendar” for the whole year focusing on the learning outcomes. The new plan may follow the guidelines of Alternative Calendar prepared by the NCERT.

“No assessment till up to 2-3 weeks of school reopening. Use of #ICT & online learning shall continue to be encouraged. The SOP also provides for guidelines on ensuring emotion well being of students and teachers with a reference drawn to #Manodarpan initiative,” the minister further added.

Schools and colleges in the country have been shut since the nationwide lockdown was imposed on 24 March to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.