In a bizarre move, the J&K government has asked the parents to be responsible for safety of their wards while sending them to schools which are likely to reopen from Monday for classes 9 to 12.
The J&K government as per the directions from Ministry of Home Affairs and Health and Family Welfare (H&FW) department has decided to reopen the schools from September 21 as per the standing SOPs.
As per the guidelines, the attendance of the students from class 9th to 12th will be voluntary and students will be allowed only after getting consent of their parents.
However, as per the contents of the letter of consent prepared by the school education department, the parents have been asked to give an undertaking that they will be personally responsible if there is any untoward incident like coronavirus infection with their ward.
“I undertake that I will not blame anybody in the school for any incident of covid19 infection,” reads the undertaking to be signed by the parents.
The move has evoked massive criticism from different quarters particularly the parents who accused the department of taking them and their wards for granted.
“Parent cannot be held responsible if anything untoward happens to the student in school amid the ongoing pandemic. This undertaking seems to be a mockery where the government wants to put the blame on parents for everything,” said Abdul Hamid, a parent from Baramulla.
Another parent said the government should reopen the schools after assessing the availability of basic facilities in the schools including neat and clean toilets, pure drinking water facilities, etc.
“But unfortunately, the government wants to put the ball in our court. We are responsible for safety of kids at home not at school,” said Muhammad Iqbal.
The undertaking to be given by the parents further states that the parent will ensure that their daughter or son will follow the SOPs of government rules and maintain the complete social distancing and hygiene to ensure safety and health.
“I shall provide a facemask and hand sanitizer to my daughter/son required as per the guidelines of the government. I will also ensure that my daughter/son shall not wear a belt, rings, wrist watch while going to the school,” reads the undertaking.
The MHA and H&FW department earlier issued the guidelines wherein it allowed the partial resumption of activities in schools on a voluntary basis from September 21.
The schools will reopen for students from class 9th to 12th. The government has also planned that the teachers of other classes will attend their schools on a rotation basis.
However, the department has not issued any circular instruction to the Chief Education Officers (CEOs) or the heads of the institutions regarding reopening of schools which has created confusion over resumption of class work from Monday.
“Last week we attended a meeting with DSEK and we were instructed not to issue any circular or alter the MHA guidelines. But there has to be a plan with the department to reopen the schools,” said a CEO, wishing not to be named.
“Parents will take care of their kids if in case they want to send them to school but what about the facilities which should be available in schools,” the official said.
National Conference provincial president, Devender Singh Rana also demanded that the reopening of schools should be postponed till the vaccine becomes available.
“Given the surge in covid19 positive cases the reopening of schools should be delayed because safety of students is a must for us. We need to take care of the health and safety p of students,” Rana said.
He said even attending school was a volunteer exercise but the government should think whether the students will be safe in schools or not.
Principal Secretary, School Education Department, Asgar Samoon, said that schools will reopen from Monday for consultation not for regular classes.
“It will be voluntary for secondary and 12 class students to join on consent of their parents. There will be 50 percent teachers on roster as per MHA lockdown-4 guidelines and Ministry of health and Family Welfare,” he said.
“Protocols conveyed by chief secretary are circulated to DCs, directors and CEOs,” he said.