Editorial | Caution is the key

At a time when the UN General Assembly meets virtually, all major diplomatic, and other transnational discussions are held online, apex level governmental meeting are taking place in the same way, we must apply the same design to the lower levels of governance, and other forms of collective functioning. We still haven’t witnessed any fall in the covid positive cases in J&K, and the number of deaths are still in two digits. In these circumstances we need a very guarded approach towards opening up the collective spaces. The guidelines of not leaving homes unless it is really required, and maintaining social distancing are still operational, and in all likelihood will remain so for some more months to come, except in case we have some miraculous breakthrough in our fight against the pandemic. In this situation all our decisions should be guided by caution, and our regard for life. The point here is the opening up of the schools. If the education department officials are adopting an incremental approach in this, it is fine; restricting it to higher classes, and making the attendance of the students subject to parental  approval.

But this step should be keenly observed for its consequences. In case it is found impacting the delivery of education in an adverse way, besides risking the health of those who come to schools, and their families, there is no harm in rolling it back. After all a dynamic leadership is about making timely, and effective decisions. The way government and private schools have shifted to online mode of teaching, and the teachers and the management have worked hard to keep students engaged, the loss to our education has been significantly minimised. In fact, keeping in view that the pandemic related crisis might prolong, the emphasis should be on improving on the technological front, rather that building up an anxiety over the  closure of schools. This anxiety can lead to wrong decisions. The example of this is the order issued in one of the districts, that reportedly asked the primary level teachers to attend the schools, 50% staff on alternate days. In these circumstances such decisions can defeat even the logic of experimenting with the incremental opening up of the schools. The apex administration in the education department must take the big picture into account, and sensitise the lower rungs of the administration in the department accordingly.