For the last two months now, the covid-19 cases are on the decline in Jammu and Kashmir. The daily cases are less than 100 for quite some time now. As on February 14, the active covid-19 cases stood at 622—160 in Jammu and 462 in Kashmir. The number of active positive cases fell to 1000 on January 28 last, first time in over eight months. The trend inspires confidence that the pandemic is waning and as such encouraging enough for the smooth reopening of the school in Kashmir Valley from March 1.
While it’s true that the pandemic has surprised time again and again, the fact remains that only a few fresh cases are surfacing, and as such all elementary, middle, and high schools should reopen for in-person instruction.
Caution demanded schools to remain closed due to a lack of reliable data about how the coronavirus affects children.
At the same time, time proved that home schooling is all but a poor substitute for professional teaching within the schools. The absence of in-person lessons, in classrooms, has had a very bad impact on various fronts.
Everyone wants young people to be educated and those extremely concerned by the prospect of educational inequalities widening are very much justifiable at their own place.
The government has already announced to open schools after the end of the winter vacations in the Valley. The schooling has already started with effect from February 1 in Jammu and as such should be smooth in the Valley also. The students have already lost two years of valuable time, first due to severe clampdown on account of 5 August 2019 decisions followed by the pandemic. The reopening schools is a necessary step for Kashmir’s children and it can be done safely, if it is done smartly.
The opening up process of schools has to be strictly on the condition of observing the usual mandatory compliance to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for covid -19.
There is a need for close surveillance. No child should come to school if he or she has any symptoms. To detect it, there ought to be an effective mechanism in place. There is also a need for a comprehensive SOP that effectively addresses the local demands. Ventilation is important. There has to be good cross ventilation in classrooms. If weather permits and where there are no space constraints, schooling should be done under trees and as per experts it is better.