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As temperatures soar in many parts of the country with the return of the heatwave, the ministry of education on Wednesday issued guidelines for schools to protect children against it. 

The government told schools to modify timings and reduce the number of school hours each day. It also said that outdoor activities, which expose students directly to the sunlight, may be restricted or adjusted.

Further, the government has directed that school assembly should be conducted in a covered area or in classrooms with reduced timing and similar care may be taken during dispersal after school is over.

The guidelines have also given schools the freedom to relax norms about uniforms and said that canvas shoes may be allowed instead of leather ones. “Students may be advised to preferably wear a full-sleeve shirt," it said. 

It also asked schools to only serve hot-cooked meals as heat has the potential to spoil the food. This should be checked by a teacher-in-charge. In addition to this, 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, it said, adding that schools must ensure quick access to the nearest hospital/clinic/doctor/nurse, etc. in case of heatstroke.

The government has also asked schools to ensure that all fans are functional and that all classrooms are properly ventilated. 

“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 etc., they may be continued," it said. 

This comes as the maximum temperature rose to 41.4 degrees Celsius on Wednesday in the national capital and is predicted to touch the 43-degree mark on 12 May due to moisture-carrying easterly winds making way for hot and dry westerlies.

The minimum temperature settled at 28 degrees Celsius, three notches more than normal.

The heatwave spell from Friday may see the mercury soaring to 44 degrees Celsius.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had earlier this week said a fresh spell of heatwave is likely to begin over northwest India from 7 May and over central India from 8 May.

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.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on 5 May 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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