Schools remain closed in Jammu and Kashmir along with many other parts of India. As soon as schools reopened in March this year after a very long gap of almost two years, Covid-19 reared its ugly head again, forcing the closure of the educational institutions.
Even when reopened, attendance at schools remained voluntary as the guidelines by the government of India specify that parents can decide what their wards should do. Most parents gave consent and school resumption seemed uninterrupted until covid-19 announced an unpleasant return.
There is no vaccine available for kids as of now while some teachers and allied staff are waiting to be vaccinated. As per AIIMS New Delhi Chief covid-19 vaccines could be available for children in India around September when data from Phase two and three trials of Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin on those in the age group of two to 18 years is expected. The Covid-19 vaccine can be given to children after the Drugs Controller General of India’s approval. If the Pfizer vaccine gets approval before that, then it can also be an option for children.
It is an acknowledged fact that in-person learning can be done safely once the children, teachers and allied staff get vaccinated. It is in alternative to ensuring universal masking, hand washing, social distancing and contact tracing. The number of covid-19 cases have ebbed of late but it seems opening of the schools is at some distance away.
The government has ordered that all universities, colleges and technical and skill development institutions in J&K shall remain closed for imparting on- campus and in-person education to the students till July 15 except for the courses, programs that require physical presence of students on account of laboratory or research or thesis work and internship etc.
The decision of shutting the schools for now seems in the right direction in order to minimize negative impacts.
It is imperative that rates of Covid-19 infection in a community must be very low and currently not many places in J&K meet the gauge. The covid-19 pandemic has surprised one and all again and again.
The pandemic has also exposed problems people are facing on account of having digital access.
To meet immediate learning needs, the government must help the students who lack facilities on account of smart phone availability or internet access to overcome the learning deficit. The life and future of an entire generation are at stake and all measures need to be done in this regard.