Srinagar: Only a few students turned up to attend special classes in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday as schools for higher classes reopened after a gap of over six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the union territory administration said. Principal Secretary, School Education and Skill Development, Asgar Hassan Samoon said the reopening of schools was not meant for regular classes.
"I was on a visit to Reasi district and only five to seven students were present in different schools and attending the special meetings with their teachers meant to clear their doubts, Director School Education, Jammu, Anuradha Gupta told PTI.
She said the school management has been directed to devise a mechanism to ensure the students make the best of the opportunity and come out with a roster to fulfil the requirement of the students. The decision of the government to reopen the schools came under sharp criticism from opposition parties, including the National Conference and the Congress, who questioned the rationale behind the opening of school from classes 9 to 12 amid the pandemic.
As on Sunday evening, Jammu and Kashmir had recorded 1,001 COVID-related deaths 769 in Kashmir and 232 in Jammu regions. The union territory's caseload was 63,990, of which 41,087 cases were reported in Kashmir and 22,903 in Jammu region.
We have not opened the schools for regular classes. The partial reopening is to facilitate the students to clear their doubts in any subject in their classrooms while following all the precautionary measures to avoid COVID-19, she said.
The attendance of the students is voluntary and based on the consent of their parents. The school education department has worked out arrangements with the school management, which undertook fumigation and sanitisation and made available an adequate number of hand sanitisers and face masks to students.
Keeping in view the peculiar circumstances (due to COVID-19), we have introduced online and offline methods of education besides community classes in non-containment zones. The blending of offline and online mechanisms is meant to provide options to the students and safeguard their future, Gupta said, adding that the online classes would continue till the time demands. Official reports spoke about zero to low attendance in various schools as most parents did not sign the consent form. 'We have a roll of 1,900 students in classes 9-12 but only 85 students have come with the consent of their parents, the principal of Shiksha Niketan School at Jeevan Nagar in Jammu said.
Kamaljeet Singh, a student of Class 10, expressed happiness over the reopening of schools, saying that he got an opportunity to interact with some of his friends after a gap of over six months.
"All of us have face masks and sanitisers. We were screened at the school gate and had to follow social distancing even in the classroom, Singh said. —PTI