The Ministry of Education on Wednesday urged schools to modify their timings and relax uniform norms in order to combat the rising temperatures.

“School hours may start early and get over before noon,” the ministry suggested. “Number of school hours per day may be reduced…Students may be allowed to wear loose and light coloured cotton material dress.”

The guidelines by the Centre were issued in the wake of the India Meteorological Department’s prediction of a fresh heatwave in the northwest and central India between May 12 to May 15.

The weather department has predicted a rise in temperatures in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Punjab and parts of Maharashtra.

For the plains, a heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature goes up to 40 degrees Celsius or more and is at least 4.5 degrees above normal. A severe heatwave is when the normal temperature is 6.5 degrees Celsius more than the normal.

Over the past two months, Delhi, as well as parts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been experiencing record high temperatures. In the last week of April, the city saw temperatures rise up to 46 degrees Celsius due to the heatwave.

The average maximum temperature in April for northwest and Central India was the highest in 122 years. The country had also witnessed the hottest March in 122 years since the India Meteorological Department started maintaining records.

Mahesh Palawat, vice president of Skymet, a private weather forecasting company, said that a fresh heatwave spell was predicted over Delhi from May 8 onwards, but easterly winds under the impact of Cyclone Asani shielded the city against it.

“Easterly winds prevailing in the region under the impact of Cyclone Asani are keeping the mercury in check,” Palawat said, according to PTI. “Without the easterly winds, temperatures would have leapt to 46-47 degrees Celsius.”

In Wednesday’s guidelines, the education ministry suggested that schools should ensure that all fans are functional and that all classrooms are properly ventilated.

“Availability of alternate power backup may be arranged, if possible,” it said. “Curtains/blinds/newspaper, etc. may be used to stop the sunlight entering directly into the classroom.”

Other guidelines

Here’s what else the Ministry of Education has suggested:

  • Sachets of ORS (salt and sugar solution) to treat mild heat-stroke should be readily available in the schools.
  • Sports/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 areas or in classrooms with reduced timing.
  • School bus/van should not be overcrowded. It should not carry students more than the seating capacity.
  • Drinking water and a first aid kit should be available in the bus/van.
  • 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.
  • Students may be advised to carry their own water bottles, caps and umbrellas and use them when out in the open.
  • Schools should ensure the availability of sufficient potable water at multiple places preferably at temperatures lower than that of surroundings.
  • Students should be made aware of the importance of proper hydration to combat the heatwave and advised to drink sufficient water at regular intervals.
  • Schools may relax norms regarding uniforms such as neckties.
  • Canvas shoes may be allowed instead of leather shoes.