The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MoEHE) and the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) will jointly train members of the schools' security and safety committees to implement precautionary measures against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), it was announced on Thursday.

"These committees are essential in the coming stage, as we require a great degree of awareness in order to control the pandemic," stated Fawzia al-Khater, assistant undersecretary for Educational Affairs, at a joint press conference with Dr Yousef al-Maslamani, medical director at Hamad General Hospital.

As part of co-ordinating efforts to prevent Covid-19 spread among school and university students, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has issued directions along with the MoEHE on standards for maintaining safety in classrooms.

In press conference videos, published by HMC on its social media accounts, Dr al-Maslamani, said HMC has agreed with the MoEHE on implementing preventive measures.

"HMC has set health guidelines that the educational staff should adopt in the event that any school student has symptoms of Covid-19. The number of students should be limited to a maximum of 15 per class, and there should be 1.5m distance between each student on all sides," he said stressing that wearing masks will not be mandatory for elementary school students, due to the difficulty of using them in the correct way. "But the Ministry of Public Health will have no objection if any parent chooses his child to wear masks," he said.

Students who are infected or have symptoms of Covid-19 ought to stay at home. "If he interacts with an infected person at home, the student must stay in home quarantine for 14 days to avoid transmitting infection to other students and staff. If the student is in contact with contacts of infected persons he must go for home quarantine," Dr al-Maslamani said.

He added that there are guidelines for the administrative and teaching staff to prevent students from mixing with each other and there will be a limit to mixing during the school opportunity period. He pointed out that if any student in the school has any symptoms, there are instructions for the administrative and teaching staff on how to deal with such cases.

On the remote learning mechanism, al-Khater explained, "the approved mechanism will continue as it was in the previous academic year."

"We are trying to increase the strength of the online teaching platform in order to help more students benefit and allay the concerns of parents," she said while insisting that parents should not attend online classes with their wards.

"Students who seek exemption from attending classes must present a medical certificate. If the exemption is requested on the grounds of a first-degree relative having a chronic disease, his or her medical certificate and national address are required," she said.

As for the exams, al-Khater said, "the exams will be conducted on the school premises, and parents must make an effort to follow up their students."

The students will sit mid-term and end-term exams at schools itself. "From our earlier experience, we proved we could conduct exams safely," she added.

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