Govt allows phased reopening of higher education institutions, skill development centres

Physical attendance of vaccinated staff in schools allowed
Govt allows phased reopening of higher education institutions, skill development centres
Students in a classroom at Srinagar's Women's College amid COVID-19 SOPs in place. File: Aman Farooq/ GK

Srinagar: The government Sunday allowed the higher educational institutions and skill development centers to reopen in a phased manner for onsite learning after July 31, subject to the vaccination status of students and staff.

Besides, it also permitted the government as well as the private educational institutions to seek physical attendance of limited vaccinated staff for administrative purposes.

The decision was taken after a detailed review of the prevailing Covid-19 situation in J&K was taken in a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta, who is also the Chairman of the State Executive Committee (SEC) of the Department of Disaster Management, Relief Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.

An order issued by the SEC said that significant improvement had been made in terms of incidence of Covid-19 cases, vaccination and compliance to Covid Appropriate Behavior (CAB) by some districts even as there was need of improvement in the interest of public health in all districts.

While the SEC decided to continue the existing Covid-19 containment measures in view of an uneven trend in the daily reported cases in the past few days, it allowed the government as well as the private educational institutions to seek personal attendance of limited vaccinated staff for administrative purposes.

“Higher educational institutions and skill development centers may be considered for phased reopening for physical classes after July 31 subject to the Covid-19 vaccination status of students and staff,” the SEC order said.

The Deputy Commissioners (DCs) have been directed to focus on the positivity rate in their respective jurisdiction and ensure strict compliance of Covid-19 Appropriate Behavior in order to break the virus chain.

“Intensified measures related to Covid management and restriction of activities will have to be taken by the DCs in these Blocks. All DCs should keep active track of the positivity rates in the medical blocks under their jurisdiction,” the SEC order said.

It said that the DCs should also consider implementing strict control measures in closed clustered spaces like public or private offices, community halls, malls and markets in case weekly positivity rate goes beyond 4 percent in these blocks.

“The three 'T' protocol of testing, tracking and treating, besides vaccination, need to be strengthened in these blocks. The proportion of RT-PCR tests in the total mix should be scaled up, on a best effort basis, to 70 percent or more, excluding travelers,” the order said.

The SEC said that the positive cases detected as a result of intensive testing need to be isolated or quarantined at the earliest and their contacts should also be traced at the earliest.

“Quick isolation and treatment of Covid-19 patients should be ensured in hospitals or homes,” the order said.

The department of Health and Medical Education, J&K has been asked to ensure adequate availability of Covid dedicated health and logistics (including ambulatory) infrastructure based on their assessment of the case trajectory.

“MD NHM in consultation with the DCs should take up Panchayat-level mapping and data capturing for tracking the positivity rates on weekly basis in all Panchayats,” the order said.

As per the SEC order, the District Magistrates have been instructed to strictly ensure full compliance to Covid Appropriate Behavior and defaulters are firmly dealt with under relevant sections of the Disaster Management Act and the Indian Penal Code.

“The District Magistrates should constitute joint teams of Police and Executive Magistrates for enforcement of Covid Appropriate Behavior. The joint teams should submit daily reports regarding activities carried out by them and their assessment of compliance level. The DCs will initiate campaigns for ensuring CAB, dedicated IEC including public announcements through mobile vehicles must be undertaken,” the order reads.

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