As temperatures have started to soar again in many parts of the country, the Department of Education issued protective guidelines to schools on Wednesday to combat the damaging effects of the heatwave, asking them to ease uniform standards , to restrict outdoor activities and to modify schedules.
A scorching heat wave had sent the mercury soaring across large swaths of India, with the temperature in Delhi hitting 46 degrees Celsius. The nation’s capital also recorded its second hottest April in 72 years with an average monthly maximum temperature of 40.2 degrees Celsius.
Ministry of Education guidelines called for schools to change timetables and reduce the number of school hours each day.
“School hours may start early and end before noon. The timetable may be from 7:00 a.m. The number of school hours per day may be reduced. Sports and other outdoor activities that expose students directly in the sun can be appropriately adjusted early in the morning.
“School gathering should be held in a covered area or in reduced-time classrooms. Similar precautions can be taken when dispersing after school ends,” the guidelines say.
The ministry also advised schools to ensure that the school bus or van is not overloaded and parked in a shaded area.
“It must not carry more pupils than the seating capacity. Drinking water and a first aid kit must be available on the bus. Pupils coming to school on foot or by bicycle must be invited to keep their heads covered Parents should be made aware of picking up students themselves, whenever possible, to avoid public transport and minimize their time in the sun School buses or vans may be parked in a shaded area,” he said.
The guidelines stated that schools should ensure that all fans are working and that all classrooms are properly ventilated.
“Availability of backup power can be arranged, if possible. Curtains, blinds, newspapers, etc. can be used to prevent sunlight from entering directly into the classroom. If traditional practices local are followed by the school to keep the environment cool like ‘khus’ curtains, bamboo/jute chiks, they can be sued.
“Heat can spoil food, therefore hot meals under PM POSHAN should be served hot and cool. The responsible teacher can check the food before serving. Children carrying a lunch box may be advised not to do not carry foods that can become stale quickly.
School canteens must ensure that fresh and healthy food is served. Children may be advised to eat light meals during lunchtime,” the guidelines state.
The ministry also said schools could relax uniform standards and that canvas shoes could be allowed instead of leather shoes.
“Students may be allowed to wear loose, light-colored cotton clothing. Schools may relax standards regarding uniforms such as ties. Canvas shoes may be allowed instead of leather shoes. It may be advised students to preferably wear a long-sleeved shirt,” he said.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had said last week that a new heat wave is expected to start in northwest India from May 7 and in central India from May 8.
However, closing schools due to the heatwave is not an option as experts suggest as offline lessons have started from the new term after almost two years due to the Covid pandemic.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a heatwave management and monsoon preparedness review meeting on May 5 during which he stressed the need to take all measures to avoid heatwave deaths. or fires.