Dozens of schools in the frontier district Kupwara could not open even a week after the end of long winter break as the buildings remained snowbound, and attendance of students in many others continued to be thin with accumulated snow making access difficult.
More than thirty schools in the district's peripheral areas were almost fully buried under more than eight feet of accumulated snow.
Similarly, around 34 schools which reopened on March 11 after the three-month winter break registered thin attendance of students as many of them preferred to stay home with school buildings still surrounded by mounds of snow.
"It's severely cold inside the classrooms and it is very difficult to stay inside without any heating arrangement," said a teacher posted in Khumriyal Zone of Kupwara.
This winter it snowed long and heavy spells particularly in the hills and mountainous areas leaving a number of school buildings surrounded with mounds of snow and making access difficult at the time of reopening on March 11.
Authorities at many places overlooked the need to clear the snow accumulated over three months from around the school buildings.
"The snow should have been cleared days before the reopening of the school, but the authorities are now taking the initiative to clear the snow. This shows the seriousness of the authorities," said Rayees Ahmad, a resident of remote Kalaroos.
Teachers at a school in Kralpora complain that if the authorities were serious about the welfare of students they should have acted much earlier and cleared the accumulated snow from school buildings rather than ask about the conditions after schools reopened.
An official said that more than 75 schools were nearly inaccessible across Kupwara in the education zones of Khumriyal, Kralpora, Rajwar and others where around five feet of snow was still blocking access.
Most of these schools are in tribal areas like Budnamal, Jumgad, Machil, Hafrada, Nowgam and Kukmadi which remain cut off from the rest of the district for a comparatively longer time during winters.
"Ours area is always neglected, even the officials hardly visit here, how come we can expect that they are serious about educating this hamlet," said Rashid Ahmad, a resident of Hafrada.
A student, Naveed Ahmad of Higher Secondary School Karihama, said going to school in such cold conditions is disheartening students.
"The government should either clear the school premises or they should close the schools till they get cleared," the student lamented.
Students at many of these places are demanding the snow be immediately cleared and some heating systems fixed in the buildings and classrooms.
Chief Education Officer Kupwara, Mohammad Shafi War said the issue has been taken up with higher authorities, and admitted that some schools were still closed.
"I ask the students to cooperate for few days, till we clear the premises," War said, adding photographs of some schools with eight feet of snow around them have been sent for higher administrative authorities to see.