Lancashire Mosque Leaders Say Madrassas Will Remain Closed Until All Schools Can Reopen18 Jun 2020
The Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) announced that the earliest date of its madrassas reopening will be July 4. The date matches UK government guidance on the opening of schools across the country. Even if the madrassas do reopen, however, it is expected that remote learning will be the norm for some time.
In the interim, LCM is working to find the best ways to reopen their supplementary schools while ensuring the safety of those attending. Following new guidance issued by the government, LCM is working to implement a number of steps that it says it hopes will keep the students safe from the coronavirus. It is possible that the guidelines it offers could then be adopted by madrassas around the country.
The earliest opening date for Madrassas is 4th of July
Officials from LCM said that the earliest date for opening for its madrassas will be Saturday 4 July. This date, it says, is in line with the government recommendation for the opening of schools as a whole, as opposed to places of worship which have been authorised for opening already.
LCM Chair, Maulana Rafiq Sufi, said that the organisation has been working with the Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council to ensure that the schools will be ready and safe to reopen by that day. It is also working to implementing measures to clean all social spaces at the end of the day, as well as arranging for the regular clean-up of carpets. Sufi also said that students will be required to bring a prayer mat or something similar to sit on during lessons.
Even after the official opening, however, Maulana Sufi expects that life will not fully return to normal yet. Teachers and students who are vulnerable will be required to stay home, receiving their courses online. Madrassas will also be closed on Friday for deep cleaning. No food will be allowed and books and stationary will not be shared among students. It is expected that regular handwashing will be required, especially after coughing, sneezing and visiting the toilet.
In addition, entrances and exits will be staggered and it is possible that the classes may be held in shifts to avoid overcrowding.
LCM’s action plan could be adopted across the country
LCM’s move to reopen madrassas come as many mosques themselves remain shut owing to uncertainty over the guidelines issued by the UK government and the difficulties many mosques will face in implementing the required social distancing measures.
To help madrassas in its jurisdiction reopen safely, LCM has issued a series of advisory guidelines. These guidelines, although applicable to their own supplementary schools, could assist mosques and madrassas around the country to reopen.
LCM’s guidelines include:
- Appointing a Covid-19 designated person from existing staff;
- Appointing other volunteers and/or staff to COVID-19 team managed by the COVID-19 designated person;
- If possible all staff to undertake infection control training;
- Where possible, try to keep masjid and madrassa activity separate;
- Complete a Risk Assessment and produce a Reopening Plan to meet COVID-19 requirements / regulations and building capacity;
- Consult with staff, securing approval from Trustees / madrassa Committee;
- Prepare the madrassa estate, including the production of posters to reinforce social distancing and hygiene expectations;
- Communicate with parents;
- Induct and train staff in the new expectations and operational procedures;
- Induct pupils in the new expectations and operational procedures.