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Schools to reopen in J&K from Sept 21, Students can visit with parent's permission

The Ministry of Home Affairs allowed states to reopen schools from September 21 under Unlock4 guidelines after almost six months. It was also clearly mentioned that reopening of Schools is voluntary and not mandatory amid rising Covid-19 cases in the country. The States had the authority take a final call on resuming classes from September 21, only for classes 9-12.

All the Schools were closed in March this year due to outbreak of coronavirus pandemic which has impacted the lives of students drastically as virtual classes replaced traditional classrooms and mass promotion was done for a few classes, several exams were deferred. Even after months, health experts, parents and students do not want government to reopen schools as number of cases in the country rose to 5.3 million in India.

With 6.72 million cases out of total 30.40 million covide-19 cases in the world, USA still holds the top spot. But as per recent Health Ministry statistics, India has overtaken United States to register the highest number of Covid-19 recoveries in the world.

The Centre issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) stating that all schools must have hand hygiene and thermal screening provisions at the gates to check temperature of both Students and Staff. Besides, only 50 percent Staff can attend School wearing proper masks and maintaining physical distance of at least 6 feet in staff rooms, libraries, mess, etc.

The sports activities and other events are strictly prohibited as per the SOPs. The swimming pools shall remain closed and lockers can be used with maintaining of regular disinfection.

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Several states including Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat etc. have decided to reopen Schools from Monday on a voluntary basis but many states are still not convinced enough. The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will also resume classes as per Unlock 4.0 guidelines. Around 50 percent Staff will attend schools, but the Students of Class 9 th to 12 th shall be permitted to visit School on voluntary basis for guidance from teachers only after getting written consent from their parents.

While talking to Jammu Links News, Director School Education Jammu, Anuradha Gupta, said, "We have received guidelines for partial reopening of Schools and same have been forwarded to the Heads of Schools. But I would like to clarify here that Students can visit their schools only if their parents are satisfied and provide written consent to them. Apart from that, sanitising and fumigation procedures are being carried out in the Schools and instructions were given to vacate any quarantine centres built in the Schools. All Chief Education Officers have been told to work in sync with district administration and Directorate of School Education Jammu would also coordinate with them at every stage. I hope that in areas except containment zones, the Schools can start working with proper SOPs."

Although the Centre government and local administrations are trying to re-start education activities, but we cannot overlook the fact that India is still an emerging epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic with more than five million cases. Such steep rise in cases can be attributed to struggle in administration, dense housing in slums and other areas, unavailability of basic healthcare like ventilators, less testing per million population, lack of welfare measures and so on. Almost 120 million people lost their jobs in April 2020 that further burdened the people and put them in financial and mental distress.

It is unlikely for parents to send their wards to Schools with all the pandemic noise as they are the key decision makers for their children. The closure of Schools is affecting the education, and this hiccup can create chaos in the educational pipeline for following year.

Several adjustments are made by the administration and Schools to address all concerns and still trying to open schools safely. In the end, a strong consensus is essential for smooth functioning of Schools so the cooperation from both ends will be required. Also, the risks cannot be downplayed but the appropriate preparation and redressal of queries from parents can be useful.


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Hardeep Bali