As several parts of India are reeling with a heatwave, the Ministry of Education has asked schools to offer several relaxations to ensure students and their health is not impacted by it. The relaxations range from shorter school duration to reminders to drink water to relaxation to remove tie.

The guidelines by the Ministry of Education asked the schools to modify timings and reduce the number of school hours each day. Schools may relax norms about uniforms and canvas shoes may be allowed instead of leather ones, it stated.

Schools have been asked to begin from 7 AM onwards, avoid sports/other outdoor activities which expose students directly to the sunlight. The ministry has asked school to ensure availability of sufficient potable water at multiple places preferably at temperature lower than that of surroundings.

“In every period, teacher should remind students to sip water from their water bottles. Students should be made aware of the importance of proper hydration to combat the heat wave and advised to drink sufficient water at regular interval. While going back home, schools must ensure that students are carrying water in their bottles,” said the ministry.

The guidelines also asked schools to ensure that canteens have fresh food and children carrying tiffin may be advised not to carry food that can turn stale quickly.

Sachets of ORS solution, or salt and sugar solution to treat mild heat-stroke should be readily available in the schools. Teaching and non-teaching staff should be trained to provide first aid to students in case of mild heat-stroke.

For those taking exams amid heatwave, ministry has asked exam centres to ensure that the candidates are promptly supplied water when asked for at their seats in the examination hall. “Students waiting area at the examination centre may be in a shaded/covered area with provision of water. Linkage of examination centres should be made with local health worker and medical centres for any emergency,” as per guidelines.

This comes at a time when India Meteorological Department (IMD) had earlier this week said a fresh spell of heatwave is likely to begin over northwest India from May 7 and over central India from May 8. However, closing schools due to heatwave is not an option as suggested by experts as offline classes have started from the new session after nearly two years due to the Covid-induced pandemic.

The ministry also said that schools should ensure that fans are functional and also may arrange for power backup. Revising school timings, restricting outdoor activities, stocking ORS and glucose sachets, and constantly motivating children to stay hydrated are among the steps schools are taking because of the heatwave conditions in the national capital region.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on May 5 chaired a meeting to review preparations for heatwave management and monsoon preparedness in which he stressed the need to take all measures to avoid deaths due to heatwave or fire incidents.

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