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Schools chalk out plans to Covid-proof school campuses

Schools across the state are staring at a long break from the academic year due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis and have begun to look at ways to create safe campuses for children when they eventually return. A group of academicians and school heads has drafted suggestions that schools could follow while welcoming children back to class.

A think tank has devised a standard operating procedure that schools could follow and shared the document with the Maharashtra education department, the ministry of human resource development, and CBSE and CISCE boards, "Parents" anxiety levels post the Covid-19 lockdown might remain high. Hence, schools have to start incorporating changes on campus and innovate structures that enable them to function with a blended learning education model (school, online and home) if they wish to retain the trust of parents. They have to ensure campuses are safe," said Francis Joseph, co-founder of School Leaders Network, the think tank.

The group collaborated with school heads, management representatives and school architects to draft their suggestions.

These include screening of students, staff and visitors for body temperature, creating safe spaces for those with other medical needs, cancelling large gatherings for the rest of the academic year, dispersing and assembling students in small batches, conducting parent-teacher meetings online, and making available school computer laboratories to children who cannot attend online classes from home.

The group has also suggested that schools run in shifts and offer a mix of online and classroom learning to ensure social distancing. Explaining a scenario, the document stated: "Assuming that the number of students in a 500-square-foot classroom is 40, half of the students can attend school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and online classes on other days when the next 20 attend school. Classroom desks can be reduced and each set six feet apart." These models, though, will require a lot of extra effort on part of teachers.

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