Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal met officials from the state's health and education departments on Tuesday to discuss reopening of schools that have been shut for over seven months because of the Covid pandemic.
The Chief Minister was briefed about SOPs (standard operating protocols) prepared by the departments to ensure that students and teachers could safely interact once schools restart. He asked officials to start classes early and allow plenty of time between shifts - students will be divided into groups and their classes will be staggered to ensure minimal contact.
Mr Sonowal also spoke to the health department to ensure that bathrooms are regularly sanitised. The department was also asked to hold regular screenings to ensure that the virus does not spread unchecked, and provide vitamins and supplements to help boost students' immunity levels.
It was also suggested that schools invite frontline health worker and plasma donors to teach the children about the importance of hygiene, particularly during the epidemic.
Importantly, the Chief Minister also directed that schools that, so far, had been used as emergency Covid care facilities be thoroughly sanitised before being returned for educational purposes.
According to the SOPs prepared by the education department, formal classes for Class 6 and above will start November 2. Classes 6, 7, 9 and 12 will attend school on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Classes 8, 10 and 11 will attend on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Classes 1, 3 and 5 will have school for two, three and four days per week, respectively.
All classes will start in two phases with 25 students maximum per phase.
Government officials at all levels have been asked to stay prepared for an outbreak.
On Tuesday evening the centre said that guidelines for the reopening of schools and colleges would remain unchanged till the end of November. These guidelines said educational institutions outside containment zones could reopen - in a graded manner - with state government permission.