Srinagar: After remaining closed for over a year due to Coronavirus pandemic, primary schools reopened on Monday in the summer capital, Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir valley amid strict COVID-19 guidelines put in place by the government.
However, expressing concern over sending their children to schools amid rise in COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country, parents have alleged lack of facilities in educational institutes to prevent the spread of virus among primary school students, keeping in view their age.
The reopening of primary schools was deferred by a week on March 8, when class work for students studying in class 6th to class 8th in all government and private schools resumed in the Kashmir Division.
Students in colorful uniforms were being screened at the entrance of their respective schools and only children wearing face masks were allowed into the premises. However, many parents alleged that the COVID-19 guidelines, including social distancing, were not being followed in private schools in the valley, including Srinagar.
The parents alleged that the school administrations were forcing them to send their children to schools without taking responsibility of the children. “The administration is asking us to fill the undertaking forms which put the onus of safety of children on the parents rather than the educational institutes,” Mansoor Ahmad, a parent, told UNI.
“Initially we were told that we have option to sent our children to school or not. But, now the schools have closed the online classes and announced examination, leaving us with no option but to sent them to schools,” he added.
Another parent, Firdous Ahmad, said the administration has asserted that they will not permit children to have lunch break and use the washroom. “It is highly irresponsible that children studying in primary classes (upto 11 years of age) will not be allowed to go to washroom or have lunch break till the school closes for the day, which is 1330 hrs,” he said.
A UNI correspondent, who visited many schools in Srinagar, saw that social distancing were not being followed in many schools, leaving small children vulnerable to the virus.
Educational institutes were reopening in a phased manner in the valley. The class work in High and Higher Secondary schools, particularly government institutes, resumed on March 1 about a fortnight after degree colleges and universities reopened in the Kashmir Division.
All educational institutes, including schools, colleges and universities, operated barely for two weeks in the 2020 academic session before the COVID-19 pandemic forced a country-wide lockdown bringing life to a grinding halt. In 2019, the academic session was badly affected following closure of all educational institutes after August 5, when centre abrogated Article 370 and Article 35 A, besides dividing J&K into two Union Territories.