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Dilemma over reopening of schools in J&K; has the right time arrived?

After the second phase of Covid-19 lockdown life is now getting back to normal since the cases have been slowed down.

So is the life in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is coming back on the track. The J&K government has removed weekend restrictions in most of the districts of the union territory.

Due to dip in the Covid-19 cases market places have been opened, public transport is running on roads, gardens, restaurants have been opened.

It was utmost important to protect the children from deadly virus thus the educational institutions were shut. But the biggest concern and challenge is reopening of educational institutions since there are no talks about it.

The government recently announced that the educational institutions in the union territory will continue to remain closed till July 31. Though there are hopes that regular classes might be allowed to function from August. The Jammu and Kashmir Education Chamber (JKEC), an amalgam of several private schools associations, had last week urged the government to start offline classes in phases.

JKEC spokesperson said that the opening of schools in offline mode is necessary for the development of students. While some parents agree with the opening of institutions, others are questioning it. Also some parents wants that first higher institutions should be opened. Also there is a fear of predicted third wave and moreover, below 18 years have still to be vaccinated.  

In this regard, the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir had recently issued a notification that the vaccination drive for teaching, non-teaching staff and eligible students would be done before reopening of colleges and schools after the Covid-19 lockdown.

But the closure of schools since such a long time has mentally impacted the students. Health experts said that children in Kashmir have been hit harder as they have mostly been confined to their respective homes since August 5, 2019. Children have been confined to homes which have negatively impacted upon their health.

Though they have been provided with online classes but it cannot be compared with offline mode of learning and atmosphere of regular schools and colleges. Online mode of learning has made it difficult for students to grasp concepts being taught, online learning can cause students to not develop needed communication skills. Also it has created many health issues amongst the students like eye problems and obesity.

It is very well known that online mode of learning is much safer at this crucial times but it cannot be made a norm. The government should now draft and make public the plan to reopen educational institutions in a phased manner.

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