When the first covid wave died down, government announced lockdown was relaxed, and we heaved a sigh of relief. Markets started gradually opening up, offices resumed work, and schools were opened up too, though the decision to send children to schools was finally left to parents. Unfortunately, the second wave unsettled everything, and we had a ghastly phase to undergo.
Lives were lost in hundreds, and everything came to a panic-stricken halt. The decision to open up schools was immediately rolled back, markets were again closed, offices functioned at a reduced strength, and all attention went into managing the crisis that left thousands infected, and of those hundreds dead, in Kashmir.
Gradually, intensity of the second wave started diminishing, and after struggling for some months, the curve was almost flattened. Now we have fewer case, although there are some occasional jumps in the daily statistics.
This irregular pattern of covid cases has made it difficult to take a conclusive decision on opening up the schools. Though almost every other public activity, and public spaces, are now open, schools still remain closed. In this situation some voices are surfacing up in favour of opening up the schools and resuming the in-person classes.
This viewpoint is backed by some arguments. Giving the examples of other Indian states, and also other countries, the point is made that schools should be immediately opened up.
The fact that all other spaces have been opened up is also put forth to underline the proposition. The government on the other is dithering on this. The concerned departments, and the officials who head them, are yet to take any decision. It is a difficult decision to make as the apprehensions of a third wave have not disappeared completely.
Here it is important for the government to listen to the points made by some people, but not to take a decision in a hurry, or under the impact of voices surfacing up. We learnt some lessons earlier the hard way, and we should not forget them.
At the same time, it is time to start drawing a plan of a gradual, and least risky, reopening of schools. No decision should be made to just give an impression that things are now normal. Whatever the plan, it should be based on facts, and a professional assessment of the data available right now.