Confusion over COVID guidelines desists Jammu schools to resume offline classes

Valley colleges re-open with limited attendance of students

Nishikant Khajuria

JAMMU/SRINAGAR, Sept 20: Amid confusion over Covid guidelines and vaccination of students, maximum schools in Jammu remained close for offline classes, except a few with very thin attendance whereas colleges across Kashmir valley today opened for physical classes with half the capacity.
Despite the Government permission to resume offline classes for Class 10th and 12th with certain conditions, maximum schools in Jammu remained closed for students who have not been vaccinated since they are below the age of 18 years.
However, a few institutions claimed that some students of Class 10th and 12th attended the school and hoped that the attendance will pick up in the coming days. They further claimed that only those students, who have a negative Covid-19 report, were allowed to enter the school premises after proper screening and hand sanitization.
“There is no specific instruction and as per the Government guidelines, there is some confusion as the school students are mostly below the age of 18 years and hence not vaccinated. We are waiting for more clarity and hope that the things will be more simplified by the end of this month,” said a senior officer in the School Education Department.
Same is the case with colleges across Jammu where all the staff members and teachers are attending their duties but there have been no offline classes though a few students are visiting for their queries.
It may be recalled that all educational institutions, including universities and colleges, were closed for offline classes to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
According to the latest Covid containment guidelines, issued yesterday evening by the State Executive Committee Chairman and Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta, the Government allowed schools to re-open for classes 10th and 12th for in-person teaching with certain conditions, including permission from the Deputy Commissioner concerned and strict adherence of Covid appropriate behavior.
The regular Classes for 12th students were permitted in the educational institutions with limited in-person teaching not exceeding 50 per cent on a given day for vaccinated students and staff. Likewise, limited in-person teaching of Class 10 students, not exceeding 50 per cent on any given day, was permitted by the Deputy Commissioner concerned after ensuring compliance with Covid appropriate behaviour by the school management.
However, as per the order, the classes will be run after due screening through 100 per cent Rapid Antigen Test or RT-PCR which will also be subject to consent of parents and students.
Meanwhile, reports from Kashmir said that after remaining closed for over 6 months due to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, colleges across the valley today opened for physical classes with half the capacity and mandatory COVID vaccination.
Students in good numbers were early in the morning seen heading towards their colleges along with the vaccination certificates as the 100 per cent vaccination has been made mandatory for the students who are willing to attend their colleges.
The college managements in this regard, have made roasters in a way that only a limited number of students remain in attendance at the colleges while the faculty members and other staff has been directed to remain present fully.
As per the roaster, the students of the 5th semester only will attend their classes for two days, while the students of the 3rd semester will attend their classes for two days after that. Similarly, the students of other semesters will also attend their classes for 2 days to ensure that a limited number of the students remain present on campus.
The Government earlier, while ordering the phase-wise reopening of the educational institutions in J&K made 100% vaccination of the students as well as the staff mandatory following which the special vaccination drives were carried out by the administration to ensure 100% vaccination coverage.
Pertinent to mention here, the health department has set up vaccination camps at all the colleges across Kashmir where the students, as well as the left out teachers, are being vaccinated.
On the day, the students who have not received their vaccination jab were being asked to report to the vaccination sites established within the colleges, where they were counselled and later given COVID-19 vaccination jab to facilitate their entry into the college.
The students who were directed to attend the colleges today were enthusiastic and said that they feel good to be back to their colleges while stating that there is no replacement to the physical classes.
“It feels good to come back to college. There is a lot of difference between the online and offline classes. There used to be network issues due to which the studies used to get affected, but now that colleges have been reopened, it feels great,” Tooba, a fifth-semester student at Govt Women’s College said.
Inside the colleges, the management had made sure that the COVID-19 SOPs are followed in letter and spirit and the students were allowed to enter only after they produced the partially or fully vaccinated certificates.
“We are following the COVID SOPs in letter and spirit and the students are not allowed to enter if they fail to produce their vaccination certificates,” said Ishfaq, a college student from south Kashmir’s Anantnag.
The students attending the colleges today said that people, particularly the students should get their COVID vaccination jab without any delay and that there was no risk at all in doing that.
“Students should get themselves vaccinated so that the educational institutions are reopened. I have received both the doses and at the same time appeal to people that they should vaccinate themselves for their safety and the safety of others,” said Maryam, another student from North Kashmir’s Baramulla.
Dr Masood Ahmad Malik, a faculty member at one of the colleges in Srinagar said that there is no alternative to the offline classes as the educational institutions are more than teaching and learning.