Srinagar: Parents are in constant dilemma about sending their children to schools as the Jammu and Kashmir Admin decided to reopen educational institutes from March 1, after 19 months, due to two consecutive lockdowns.

On February 4, Director School Education Kashmir (DSEK) announced to throw schools open from March for offline class work.

Educational Institution worldwide have been closed for the last one year due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, but in Kashmir, children have not been to schools for the last 19 months because before outbreak of COVID-19, Kashmir was put under complete lockdown after August 2019 when BJP-led government unilaterally scrapped the semi-autonomous status of JK granted under article 370, and bifurcated the state into two Union Territory.

However, the decision of reopening schools for offline classes has put many parents in worry as they are concerned about the safety of their children.

Asma Goni, Convener of the Parents Association of Privately Administered Schools (PAPAS), said that as corona is still here and vaccination process is still on, the “school administration should wait till April and till then start online classes”.

“Parents need to take the responsibility of their children, and we don’t know what measures are put up in schools, how we will take responsibility. Another hurdle is that transport drivers have to follow SOPs which means they have to take 5 out of 10 students. They will definitely raise the monthly fee which will add one more burden on parents,” she added.

Asia Jan, a parent of a school going child expressed her anxiousness of reopening of schools amid the pandemic.

“I am very worried about sending my daughters to school because corona is still here. I don’t know if my children will be safe in school,” she said.

President, Private School Association Kashmir, G N Var said that they have put all the measures in place and parents need not fear about the safety of their children.

“After so many months children will be finally in schools and parents should support this initiative because, already, they have lost two academic years. Children are showing drastic behavioural changes which will affect their personality. Schools in this sense have to face more challenges as they have to start from the beginning,” Var noted.

He added that counselling and awareness classes will be conducted in first weeks of formal schooling to make the students and their parents feel comfortable.

Speaking to the Free Press Kashmir Dr Younis Malik from DSEK said, “Parents need not to worry as we have put extremely strict measures in place to keep the virus at bay. Cleanliness and sanitization drives will be done regularly in schools. We will also ensure proper use of sanitizers and masks by students as well as teachers.”

Besides, he said that education department is conducting workshops with teachers to make them aware about SOPs to be followed in schools.

“The starting days of children in schools will include awareness classes on COVID-19 and how to follow measures on individual basis which will educate children. Because we need to consider the fact that children have not been to school for long now and they will not grow properly this way. It is high time to send them to formal schooling,” Malik detailed.

Malik also said that there is mental stress prevailing in children of all groups and parents need to understand this.

“We are organizing counselling session for students which will be a stress buster for them and they will feel good when they will meet their classmates and teachers,” he added.

 

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