Attendance thin, students excited, parents concerned
After a gap of more than six months following the Covid-19 restrictions and lockdown, schools reopened for higher classes in Kashmir for "consultation and doubt clearing" on Monday.
The move comes after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) under the Unlock 4.0 guidelines urged the schools to partially reopen from September 21, stating that students from Classes 9th to 12th would be allowed to visit teachers for a limited time to seek guidance.
Srinagar witnessed partial reopening of schools and thin attendance amid mandatory COVID-19 guidelines and SOPs.
At the Girls Higher Secondary School Kothi Bagh, some students had come for consultation and guidance classes while maintaining physical distance and the school had kept proper SOPs in place.
Bisma Mir, one of the students, told Rising Kashmir that she was happy attending school after a long break of six months.
“During the past few months, we were attending zoom classes but low internet speed played spoilsport. I am happy today and have also got written consent from my parents to attend the school,” she said.
Another student Abiroo Ashiq from HSS Kothi Bagh said she was excited to return to school after a gap of six months.
Tariq Ahmad Karra, who work as a lecturer in the school, said the students had attended school with the consent of their parents and had come to seek guidance and counseling.
“We are following all the instructions of the government,” he said.
In north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, many schools re-opened and saw thin attendance of the students.
In Sopore town all higher schools reopened.
SRM Welkin Educational Trust, Sopore, Sanctorum Institute of Education, Girls Higher Secondary and other schools reopened in the town.
The students were seen following SOPs and guidelines.
Schools also reopened in Pulwama, Anantnag, Ganderbal, Kulgam, Shopian and other districts of Kashmir but the student attendance was negligible.
In March, the government ordered closure of all educational institutions in Kashmir valley after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, parents in the Valley expressed mixed response over sending their wards back to schools.
Mushtaq Ahmad, whose daughter studies in 9th standard in Baramulla told Rising Kashmir that reopening of schools was a futile exercise as there was health risk.
However, some parents were positive about the decision and hoped that it would prove to be a good beginning.
Principal Secretary, School Education and Skill Development Asgar Hassan Samoon tweeted that schools were not for regular classes but consultation.
He said by volunteering, secondary students with the consent of their parents can attend schools with 50 percent teachers on the roster as per the guidelines.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) including staggering of the classrooms, no sharing of objects, separate timing slots, physical distancing, and sanitisation of premises for the phased reopening of schools.
"All entry points to the schools will have hand sanitizers and thermal screening for temperature. To ensure that physical distancing of six feet is maintained, schools have been asked to draw markings on the floor in staff rooms, office areas, the mess, library, cafeteria, and also design classroom seating accordingly,” the guidelines read.