COLOMBO: Sri Lanka will re-open its schools in a phased manner from Monday after keeping them closed for 115 days due to the lockdown imposed in the country to contain the spread of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Education said on Sunday.
The schools were shut mid-March when Sri Lanka detected its first COVID-19 infection.
Ranjith Chandrasekera, the additional secretary to the ministry, said students from Grades 5, 11 and 13 will resume schooling on Monday.
There will be extended hours for Grade 13 students with school closing time extended until 3.30 PM from usual 1.30 PM closure.
In the next phase, students of Grades 12 and 10 will return on July 20.
The students of Grades 3,4,6,7,8 and 9 would return on July 27.
The final phase would be on August 10 when Grades 1 and 2 would return, the official said.
“Parents are strictly advised not to send children to schools if they are having fever, cough and flu,” Chandrasekera said.
He said students were not expected to wear face masks when in school but must don them when they travel to school and back.
They will also be made to follow strict COVID-19 health guidelines.
The school principals have been advised not to conduct term tests or to have students participating in extra curricular activities despite the re-opening of schools.
The teachers and non-academic staff had returned to schools last week to prepare for students’ return while setting in motion health guidelines.
Sri Lanka ended its COVID-19 lockdown in stages after it was imposed in May.
Last month, the Sri Lankan government completely lifted the curfew imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus after no new case of community infection was recorded for nearly two months in the country.
Sri Lanka had been under a continuous lockdown since March 20, a week after the first case of the pandemic was reported.
Initially, a nationwide blanket curfew was imposed but it was later eased for about two-thirds of the country and was mostly confined to night time.
The island nation recorded over 2,000 COVID-19 positive cases with just 11 deaths.
Since April 30, no cases from within the local communities have been reported, according to the health officials.
Sri Lanka is set to hold parliamentary election on August 5 which was also postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.