Sanitising books properly, not sharing them, and rigorous cleaning and sanitisation of warehouses are among some of the measures being taken by students and publishers to ensure books do not become a carrier for novel coronavirus.
While several schools are sending out advisories to parents and students about upkeep of their books during the lockdown, publishers, too, have developed different protocols in this regard.
Pearson group, which runs an education publishing and assessment service, has sent advisories to all its storage locations for books.
"We have taken extensive preventive measures in our warehouses putting in place rigorous cleaning and sanitization procedures. In order to provide our customers with high quality, infection-free package, books are being properly sanitised for use, to avoid the spread of the virus," said Philip Rajan, Director (Operations), Pearson India.
As a basic safety measure, the storage locations are being sanitized at regular intervals, he said.
"Both cartons as well as individual books are picked up with hand gloves from the location. It is mandated that all suppliers sanitise the truck before loading books for delivery at the warehouse. We have mapped the entire journey of the book from picking to packing and included stringent precautions," he added.
Euron International School in Gurgaon has asked parents to guide the students about handling of their books to avoid spread of the virus.
"While students are reading a lot of contents online, still they remain more dependent on paperbacks and parents prefer that too because it reduces their screen time, a representative at the school said.
However, students should not share textbooks at the moment, he said. "We have also shared a list of dos and don'ts."
"Keeping the present COVID-19 crisis in mind, publishers of schoolbooks as well as books for higher studies need to take specific precautions so that the books are virus-free and safe for distribution.
"Even though the likelihood of an infected person contaminating books or papers is relatively low, the fatal virus is reported to survive on surfaces like paper, plastics or fabrics for some hours and up to a few days," said Ashok Pathare, Managing Director, Paxchem Ltd.
Since, the pages of the book or paper are prone to damage when exposed to liquids, use of liquid disinfectants can prove to be harmful, he said.
"However, if the outer cover of the books is hardback or laminated with plastic covers or plastic films, outer disinfection of the books is possible. Using a quality disinfectant spray to wipe the outer laminated plastic surfaces of such books will ensure most harmful germs are killed and not transmitted during distribution," he added.
The Punjab Education Board has already started the process of free textbooks distribution for children of government schools in Punjab, which had come to a halt with the coronavirus lockdown.
"Each district-level office where books are kept in storerooms have been instructed to sanitise the entire storerooms and each bundle of books, before they are transported to block-level offices," an official with the board's publication department said.
Universities and schools across the country have been closed since March 16 when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of a slew of measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.
Later, the government announced a nationwide lockdown which began on March 25. The lockdown was initially imposed for a 21-day period till April 14. However, it has been extended thrice. The current phase of the lockdown ended Sunday.
The government had on Saturday announced a phase wise easing of the restrictions.