Government mulls reopening of schools for higher classes from September 21

Amid rise in covid19 cases, the school education department is mulling to reopen the schools for secondary and higher secondary classes from September 21.

The move comes in wake of the new guidelines issued by the health and family welfare department, government of India regarding partial resumption of activities in schools on voluntary basis.

“The department is holding deliberations on it and final decision will be taken within days. A proper procedure will be followed for reopening of schools for secondary and higher secondary classes,” an official said.

He, however, said that the students will be allowed to visit the schools on volunteer basis only after getting consent from their parents.

“The department will ensure that all standing SOPs are followed and then only class work will resume,” he said.

Meanwhile, as per the new guidelines from health and family welfare department, all schools (with classes 9th to XII) shall specifically ensure that online or distance learning should continue to be permitted and shall be encouraged.

As per the guidelines, schools outside the containment zones only are allowed to open. “Students, teachers and employees living in containment zones will not be allowed to attend the school. Students, teachers and employees shall also be advised not to visit areas falling within containment zones,” read the guidelines.

The guidelines state that the concerned teaching and non-teaching employees up to 50 percent of the strength should be called to schools for online teaching or tele-counselling and related work.

Meanwhile, the Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) has convened a meeting on Friday with all Chief Education Officers (CEO) of Kashmir division to discuss the SoPs for reopening of schools.

“The DSEK is going to have a review of the guidelines in lieu of the instructions issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for opening of schools from September 21,” reads the meeting notice issued by Joint director education, central.

Parents concerned

However, the government decision to reopen schools has made parents anxious about the safety of their children.

“Opening of schools at this juncture is risky. Authorities have no right to put lives of students at risk,” said Abid Ahmad, a parent from Baramulla.

Another parent said that the government has failed to provide basic facilities of drinking water and toilet to students in schools. “In these circumstances it won’t be possible to maintain proper hygiene and cleanliness in schools.”

“Government should not take any hasty decision in this regard. All aspects need to be considered before opening of schools,” said Muhammad Aslam, a parent from Srinagar, adding that the Valley has been witnessing surge in the number of Covid19 cases for past few weeks.

“Keeping in view the prevailing situation, government should wait for more time till the number of positive cases comes down,” he said.

President PSA says

President, Private Schools’ Association J&K, G N Var said that the government was “creating a scare” among the parents by asking them to give their consent for reopening of schools.

“If government feels that situation allows them to open schools then why are they asking for consent of parents?” Var asked.

He said that the government was planning to reopen schools at a time when 95 percent of academic session is already over and students are preparing for their annual exams.

“Most of the schools are still used as quarantine centres in several districts, so it is a risk to ask students to attend schools,” he said.

He also said the majority of schools lack basic infrastructure in Valley which pose a risk for students as well.