Parents have the right to decide whether to send their child to school or not, a top education ministry official said as Sultanate prepares to reopen schools on November 1. Dr Abdullah Khamis al Busaidy, Under-Secretary, Ministry of Education, told Oman TV on Sunday night: “The ministry is able to find solutions to the current challenges, and it may be noted that the decisions of the Supreme Committee on COVID-19 are taken due to the exceptional circumstances that the Sultanate and the world is going through.”
Ventilated classrooms, isolation rooms in schools and no entry without masks are part of the COVID-19 protocol issued by the Ministry of Education on Monday which cover students, parents, school administration, teachers, bus drivers, caregivers and visitors. It lists measures in the event of coronavirus infection or suspected infection in public or private schools. This will be applied during the first semester for the school year which begins on November 1.
The supervisory committees formed at the general directorates of education in the governorates will ensure the implementation of health protocol in schools, classify schools according to their student strength, and activate the hotline between the directorate’s supervisory committee and the main committee, schools and health institutions and the ministry. This is aimed at monitoring the detection of new cases and other developments in schools. The administration of academic bodies is vested with the responsibilities of preparing the school premises to receive students, allocating a work team inside the schools that will direct students upon their arrival at the entrance and ensuring the availability of temperature measuring devices.
The ministry said parents should prepare a healthy meal for their children as per nutritional requirements. The school also should have a suitable mechanism for break between classes. For grades 1-4 students, the teacher should ensure that the students have their meals while maintaining physical distancing. For the students who don’t bring meals from home, the school canteen should prepare healthy, well-packed meals. Canteens should follow all precautionary measures. For other students, they should remain in the classroom during break in the presence of the teacher. Yet, they are allowed to go out in the schoolyard while maintaining physical distancing.
The ministry affirmed that the school visitors must coordinate with the school administration for any visit. They have to follow all precautionary measures and adhere to wearing masks and maintain physical distancing. The visits should be as short as possible and documented online.
The ministry has asked the bus drivers to wear masks, organise proper boarding and dropping procedures, maintain physical distancing, clean seats and stands with alcohol-based disinfectants every morning before and after students board the bus.
They have been requested to ventilate the buses before and after each transfer of students. The school administration is to find an appropriate mechanism that relieves students from crowding in the school bus, and not allow students to board if they are not wearing the mask except for the first graders. In case the bus drivers find COVID-19 symptoms among any of the students, they must inform the school administration immediately.
According to the ministry’s guidelines, all cleaning workers must wear masks and gloves and follow required precautionary measures. The company must ensure the availability of soaps in schools’ toilets, commit to periodically disinfect the surfaces of the school with disinfectants approved by the Ministry of Health.