The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday formally opened schools for students from class 9 to 12.
“Schools reopening tomorrow (Monday) not for regular classes but consultation by volunteer secondary students on consent of parents with 50 percent teachers on roster as per MHA lockdown 4 guidelines & Min of health and FW protocols conveyed by chief secretary & circulated to DCs/ Directors/ CEOs,” J&K’s Commissioner Secretary Education, Dr Asghar Samoon, tweeted on Sunday.
The school education department has put the onus of safety of the children on parents, who have been asked to sign an undertaking that they “would be personally responsible” if the student acquires Covid-19 infection and that they would have to provide masks and hand sanitisers.
Public health experts, however, warned that this is not the right time to open schools as Covid cases have seen a steep rise in J&K in the last 15 days. For the last week, around 1,500 new cases have been reported every day.
Very few students turned up in schools in Kashmir on Monday.
Schools in the Valley were virtually shut since August 5 last year, following the curfew and shutdown with the abrogation of special status. They remained closed in winter on account of winter vacations, and opened in March barely for a fortnight before being closed again due to the pandemic.
In Jammu, most government schools saw hardly any students arriving for subject-related clarifications. Most private schools, too, preferred to go with the sentiments of parents against reopening of educational institutions.
A senior doctor at SKIMS told The Indian Express, “We understand that the government is in a catch-22 situation… Keeping this in mind, they have perhaps decided to open schools. But from the public health point of view, this is not the time to open schools. But now that they have opened schools, the government must ensure that social discipline is maintained.”
— With inputs from Arun Sharma in Jammu
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