With the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) declaring a heatwave in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) from Friday, the ministry of education has issued guidelines for schools, asking them to relax the uniform norms, and restrict outdoor activities and modify timings.
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“School hours may start early and get over before noon. The timing may be from 7.00 AM onwards. The number of school hours per day may be reduced. Sports and other outdoor activities which expose students directly to the sunlight may be appropriately adjusted in the early morning,” the guidelines stated.
“School assembly should be conducted in covered areas or classrooms with reduced timing. Similar care may be taken during dispersal after school is over,” it added.
The Centre’s guidelines come after parents of children studying in Delhi schools requested the government last week to either revise timings or to advance summer holidays given the brutal heatwave and high temperatures. Several states, including Haryana and Punjab, have either changed school timings or announced early summer break to protect children from the unrelenting heatwave.
A heatwave had sent the mercury soaring across India, with the temperature in New Delhi rising to 46 degrees Celsius. New Delhi also recorded its second hottest April in 72 years with a monthly average maximum temperature of 40.2 degrees Celsius.
As for transportation to and from school, school buses/vans should not be overcrowded and must be parked in shaded areas. Drinking water and a first aid kit should be available in the vehicle. Students walking/cycling to school, should be advised to keep their heads covered. The ministry also recommends against the usage of public transport to minimize the children’s exposure to the sun.
The government statement said children are advised to not carry their tiffins as the food might turn stale or get spoiled in the heat. Instead, hot-cooked and fresh meals must be provided under PM POSHAN. Additionally, schools must be equipped with Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS) sachets and essential medical kits, and teaching and non-teaching staff should have knowledge of first aid.
Easing the guidelines on uniforms, the advisory said students may be allowed to wear loose and light-colored cotton material outfits and canvas shows may be allowed instead of leather ones. Full-sleeve shirts are also advised as it provides protection from UV rays and keeps the body cooler.
Listing guidelines for classrooms, schools should ensure that they are “properly” ventilated, and curtains/blinds may be used to block sunlight from directly entering the classroom. If schools follow local traditional practices of using “khus curtains, bamboo/jute chiks”, then they may be continued. As for residential schools, windows in the dormitories should have curtains and constant availability of water and electricity must be provided on campus. The diet provided by the residential school should include lemon, buttermilk and seasonal fruits with high water content.
With the ongoing exam season, exam centres should allow students to bring their own transparent water bottles and ensure the availability of accessibly drinking water. Apart from this, exam halls may be provided with fans and waiting areas should be covered with the provision of water.
Addressing the students, the ministry advised them to “drink sufficient water even if not thirsty”, and to consume ORS, lassi, torani (rice water), lemon water etc, to keep themselves hydrated. It advised against the consumption of heavy/junk/stale/spicy food or going outside when empty-stomached.
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