The colleges and universities may soon reopen for in-person teaching in Jammu and Kashmir. The prospect looks good as the virus case tally has reduced and opening seems to be more appropriate once vaccination of staff and students is completed.
Recently deputy commissioner Srinagar held a meeting of Principals of City Colleges, Officers of Health Department and senior Officers of district Administration with thrust on 100 percent College Staff. As per officials, nearly 50 percent students enrolled in all Government Degree Colleges in the district have also been administered Covid-19 vaccination shots and a process to cover leftover students is going on . Vaccinating will help in protecting College staff as well as students from contracting Virus, besides, create an atmosphere to start offline classes, and ultimately keep Colleges open.
The reopening will come as a relief to students who have missed class environment to study. The online teaching system proved all but inadequate and not enough to replace the in-class atmosphere amid slow internet troubles in J&K.
As and when students return to universities and colleges in the J&K, what can be learned from the debacles in some countries?
The first lesson is the importance of curbing community transmission before reopening. The government move to open up the colleges and universities seems apt in contemporary times as community spread is minimal given the fact there are fewer cases on average a day and the test positivity rate is far better than the required. The directions of strict adherence to the protocols need to be ensured on the ground without fail. The government must keep available thermal scanners, sanitizers, besides ensuring the wearing of face masks by students and staff. It needs to be ensured without fail as the infections in students can lead to infections among vulnerable people on campus, including faculty members and other staff, and in the wider community.
The concerned should always keep in mind the virus variants. Without ready pharmaceutical remedies, citizens and policymakers have to fall back on the default toolkit of safe behaviour. In Jammu and Kashmir along with other parts of the country, a sizable population seems to have been exposed to the virus, as indicated by seropositivity surveys at several places. But the spate of infections in some parts of the country especially in Kerala recently underscores the value of the precautionary principles. Even with declining infection rates, public activity needs to be guided by caution. Use of face masks and healthy distancing is the need of hour.