From more than a fortnight, covid-19 numbers are declining. The all-round general improvement in the pandemic situation has thus encouraged the administration to gradually ease curbs imposed during the second wave’s devastating period from early April to early June.
Weekend curfew has been lifted in all but four twenty districts in Jammu and Kashmir. Restaurants are now allowed to function at 50% capacity while parks and parking are open. This is in addition to opening of workplaces and shopping centres which is in fact necessary to keep the economy on an even keel.
The scenario looks for more opening up especially the educational institutions. The schools have remained closed in Jammu and Kashmir, more than in any part of India or globe. While the pandemic forced the closure of educational institutions in mid-March last year when the virus was declared a pandemic around the world, the schools, colleges and universities had reopened after seven-month closure in the wake of the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019.
Even when reopened, attendance at educational institutions 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.
While the situation may seem ripe for reopening up the schools now, the administration’s decision to keep them closed for “in-person and on-campus teaching” to the students till July 31 is all but appropriate and a good decision given what happened in April when the second wave started to pick up. Then several schools across Kashmir had witnessed cases of infection, prompting the administration to shut down all educational institutions.
At this time, reopening the schools runs the grave risk of exposing children to the infection. Schools lack the adequate infrastructure to protect the pupils. It would also be impossible to make the students follow the safety measures. This is therefore not the conducive time to reopen schools.
Thus the decision of keeping the schools shut for now seems in the right earnest so as to minimize negative impacts. The administration should wait for the virus to be reigned in to a larger extent before children could go back to school. Considering the pandemic is not going to go away any time soon and there might even see a fresh spurt in the infections, the administration should wait for more time before allowing the educational institutes to reopen in view of the worrisome shadow of another wave looming large.