Teaching and non-teaching staff raise concerns about the implementation of Covid-19 SOPs once schools reopen

Teaching and non-teaching staff have raised concerns regarding implementation of standard operating procedures (SOP) against Covid-19 following the direction of the state government to reopen schools physically for Class 9 to 12 from November 23. School teachers, cleaners, workers, security guards, peons, clerks, counsellors and helpers said the state government and school authorities should provide necessary resources for maintaining SOPs regularly at the ground level.

According to the government resolution (GR) released on November 10, all schools of Maharashtra can reopen physical classes for Standard 9 to 12 from November 23, 2020. The state government further directed that Covid-19 SOP guidelines, safety measures and distancing norms need to be followed in all schools at all time.

Following this direction, teachers have raised concerns regarding implementation of SOP guidelines. Deepak Thakkar, a teacher said, "Cleanliness of classrooms and washrooms need to be maintained by the respective non-teaching staff responsible for the work. But in such crucial situations, all of us have to keep an eye out to check if things are clean and sanitised all the time."

Ravi Nikam, who works as a cleaner in a school said, "We have been ordered by the school management to sanitise every bench, desk, door, washroom, common area and locker. I hope the school provides enough material required for such a regular sanitisation practice. Also, we might need more manpower to reduce the workload and avoid risks."

While, Vijayalakshmi Nair, who works as a security guard at a school said, "Entry and exit gates are crucial points for crowding thus increasing the risks of spread of Covid-19 infection. Parents should be informed to wait outside the school gate at a distance. Implementation of SOP guidelines is going to be challenging."

According to the state education ministry, thermal screening of all students will be done before they are allowed inside classrooms. Seating arrangements will be changed to allow only one child per bench.

Varsha Gaikwad, state school education minister, said, "A mass drive of RT-PCR testing of teachers will be conducted by local administrations between November 17 and 22. Following which, only those teachers whose reports are negative will be allowed to conduct classes."

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