Jammu- Students of lower classes thronged their schools in most parts of Jammu province early Monday to attend offline classes after a gap of nearly two years, a week after Jammu and Kashmir administration announced phased opening of educational institutions amid declining trend of COVID-19 cases.
However, the schools in Kashmir and winter zones of Jammu region are scheduled to open next week at the end of over two-month long winter vacation.
On February 14, most of the high and higher secondary schools opened after the J & K administration allowed opening of universities, colleges, polytechnics and ITIs and Classes from 9 to 12 for routine offline (physical attendance) teaching.
The University of Jammu and University of Kashmir have decided to reopen the campuses for students from March 1.
Neatly dressed in their school uniforms, the students of lower classes were excited and expressed their happiness to be back in their schools.
"So far we have been getting education through online classes but today we are happy to be back in our school, among our friends and teachers after a long gap, Geetika, a Class 7th student of a private school, said.
"It is nothing short of a festival for a teacher, especially of the primary and middle classes as their students are back in their classrooms. We are thankful to the administration for taking such a decision, Rameshwar Mengi, principal of Shiksha Niketan Higher Secondary School in Rajeev Nagar, said.
Welcoming the students back in their classes, Mengi assured the parents that they have taken all necessary precautions in accordance with the government guidelines for the safety of the children.
He said the students do not know their classrooms and some of them in pre-primary will have schooling experience for the first time.
It is like bringing them back from mother's lap to the school. It is a challenging situation for the teachers to adjust them in the classroom atmosphere but we are confident of the success, he said.
After the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, the educational institutions shifted to online mode of teaching on the orders of the government to prevent the spread of viral disease. While the high and higher secondary schools were opened several times in the past, the lower classes were opened for the first time.
Many private schools in the city with large enrolment have decided to hold physical classes for the students in two shifts to ensure strict adherence of the COVID-19 guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures.
In a latest order issued on Sunday night, the state executive committee (SEC) headed by chief secretary A K Mehta said the heads of Institutions will be responsible for adherence to Covid Appropriate Behaviour in their respective schools and prepare proper plans for the same.
"Symptomatic students should not be allowed to attend school. No student should be allowed to attend school without a mask, the order said ahead of the opening of lower classes.
It said the heads of the institutions must ensure that guidelines related to social distancing and Covid Appropriate Behaviour are strictly followed including regular screening at the entrance of the institution.
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