As temperatures started soaring again in many parts of the country, the Ministry of Education on Wednesday issued protective guidelines to schools for combating ill-effects of heatwave, asking them to relax the uniform norms, restrict outdoor activities and modify timings.
A torrid heatwave had sent the mercury soaring across large swathes of India with the temperature in Delhi rising to 46 degrees Celsius. The national capital also recorded its second hottest April in 72 years with a monthly average maximum temperature of 40.2 degrees Celsius.
The guidelines by the Ministry of Education asked the schools to modify timings and reduce the number of school hours each day.
"School hours may start early and get over before noon. Timing may be from 7.00 AM onwards. 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.
"School assembly should be conducted in covered area or in classrooms with reduced timing. Similar care may be taken during dispersal after school is over," the guidelines said.
The ministry has also advised schools to ensure that the school bus or van should not be over-crowded and should be parked in shaded area.
"It should not carry students more than the seating capacity. Drinking water and first aid kit should be available in the bus. Students coming to school on foot or bicycle should be advised to keep their head covered. Parents should be sensitised to pick-up the students themselves, to the extent possible, to avoid public transport and minimise their time out in the sun. School bus or van may be parked in a shaded area," it said.
The guidelines stated that schools should ensure that all fans are functional and that all classrooms are properly ventilated.
"Availability of power back-up may be arranged, if possible. Curtains, blinds, newspaper, etc. may be used to stop the sunlight entering directly into the classroom. If any local traditional practices are being followed by the school to keep the surroundings cool such as 'khus' curtains, bamboo/jute chiks, they may be continued.
"Heat can spoil food therefore hot-cooked meals under PM POSHAN must be served hot and fresh. In-charge teacher may check the food before serving. Children carrying lunch box may be advised not to carry food that can turn stale quickly.
Canteens in schools should ensure that fresh and healthy food is served. Children may be advised to have light food during lunch time," the guidelines said.
The ministry also said that schools may relax norms about uniforms and canvas shoes may be allowed instead of leather ones.
"Students may be allowed to wear loose and light coloured cotton material dress. Schools may relax norms regarding uniform such as neck ties. Canvas shoes may be allowed instead of leather ones. Students may be advised to preferably wear full-sleeve shirt," it said.
The India Meteorological Department had last 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 pandemic.
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.