A Good Step

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THE Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday announced that all schools for students up to Class 9 will remain closed for two weeks from April 5 in view of the rising number of coronavirus infections in the union territory. Similarly, physical classes for students from classes 10 to 12 will also be suspended for a week. Earlier, the administration had asked all district magistrates to take a call on the continuation of physical classes in schools amid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Closing the schools is a good decision. In recent past, several schools across the Valley had witnessed cases of infection. Ironically, the government had decided to reopen schools at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is once again spreading through J&K like a wild fire and the number of deaths is rising. So, how did government expect there would be no infections in schools.

Reopening schools runs the grave risk of exposing children to the infection. Schools lack the adequate infrastructure to protect the children. It would also be impossible to make the students follow the safety precautions. This is therefore not the conducive time to reopen schools. Government should wait for the contagion to be reigned in before children can go back to school.

If we evaluate the situation objectively, the government’s decision to start schools was premature. On ground the exercise was not only not going to serve its desired purpose but also disrupt the ongoing online classes and leave a majority of students without education. Considering the pandemic is not going to go away any time soon and we might even see fresh spurt in the cases, the government should wait for a month or so before allowing the schools to reopen.

It is true that schools had been closed since mid-March last year when Coronavirus was declared a pandemic around the world. This was barely fifteen days after the schools had reopened following seven month closure in the wake of the revocation of Article 370 in August 2019. This had already taken a massive toll on the education in Kashmir. More so, in Kashmir where the schools have now been closed for nearly two years. Education has been the worst victim of the lingering political turmoil and now that of the pandemic. A virulent third wave of the Covid-19 has made the education a tricky trade-off between re-opening schools and the health of children. But given the existing situation, it is important that the schools remain closed for now.

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