Govt gears up to re-open schools in J&K

Prepares roadmap from 3rd week of June

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, June 1: The Government is gearing up to re-open schools, most likely from third week of June in J&K and the Administration has prepared a roadmap for the functioning of the educational institutions in phased manner amid COVID-19.
Highly placed sources told the Excelsior that Government has passed instructions to the Director, School Education, Kashmir and Jammu to make preparations for taking safety measures in all the Government Schools, to arrest spread of Corona virus to students and staff.
Elaborating further, sources said not only this, the instructions have also been passed on to the concerned Chief Education Officers and Zonal heads in the School Education Department to provide a reusable masks and a pair of hand gloves to every student and ensure availability of 1000 ml bulk hand sanitizer and 1200 ml liquid soap with dispenser at every point to each Govt school.
Since huge funds are required for the preparations and ensuring safety measures in each school, the sources revealed that funds would be utilized from the Samagra Grants for the School Education Department, for this purpose.
Sources said the Government has already extended closure of schools in J&K UT up to June 15, 2020 in view of Covid-19 pandemic. Its earlier order of closure was up to May 31. The J&K Administration is following instructions from the Government of India for such decisions. After receiving fresh instructions with regard to making preparations for the functioning of schools, the top officials in the School Education Department have been engaged in preparing roadmap for the same.
It has been learnt that initially, the Government would focus on opening of schools in rural and semi-urban areas involving community/ Panchayat Members for supervisory role to ensure social distancing and safety of the children. Even the trial run of schools may begin with students having even and odd roll numbers or they may be allowed subject wise every alternative day to the schools. Like the Government offices, where 30 % of the staff was allowed in the beginning and then shifted to 50%, on the similar pattern, the students ratio for smooth functioning is also being decided, the sources maintained.
“Initially teachers will be asked to resume their duties at least one week advance from the day of functioning of the schools. They will supervise all the safety measures and make arrangements for the smooth and secure operation of their respective schools. School heads would seek the help / cooperation from Panchayat/ Ward members/ community leaders for maintaining social distancing and ensure SOPs under COVID-19,” sources added.
Principal Secretary, School Education Department, Asgar Samoon when contacted said,” We intend to resume functioning of the schools after June 15. But safety of the students will be our top priority. The directions from the Government of India are being followed and the Administration is closely monitoring situation on day today basis. If the situation is found favourable by the end of second week of June, the Government may declare opening of schools in phased manner,” he added.
Samoon said today, the instructions have been passed on to the Director Education Kashmir and Jammu to make preparations and ensure safety measures against Coronavirus in all Government schools. They were also directed to make arrangements for the masks, hand gloves, sanitizer/ liquid soap with dispenser for the students and staff.
Responding to a question, Samoon said there are nearly 15 lakhs students in Government Schools and over 10 lakhs in private institutions in Jammu and Kashmir. The private school managements would also follow the same SOPs for smooth and secure resumption of activity in their respective schools.
“Initially, the activity would be resumed with the conduct of left out exam for few subjects at 10 Plus two level in third or fourth week of June, followed by operation of classes from 9th to 12th level. The children up to Primary level may be exempted for initial few weeks, as it is problem with them to make aware about maintaining social distancing and other SOPs. They may learn gradually. Middle classes may be made operational for successful trial run of higher classes,” Samoon maintained.
The Principal Secretary, further said that books among the students in Jammu region have already been distributed and in Kashmir region, this activity would be completed shortly. It is not possible to ask all the students to have smart / android phones for online education. “The Government intends to provide `Tablets’ to the students so that teachers can give them online education. The distance education mode is also being worked out to provide education to the students amidst Coronavirus threat as nobody knows for how long we have to live with it,” Samoon added.
Meanwhile, Director School Education Jammu, Anuradha Gupta, however, said, ” We have no exact information about the date of reopening of the schools. We have only been directed by the Administrative department to make arrangements for the masks, gloves, sanitizers, liquid soaps etc in the schools and ensure safety measures against Coronavirus in each school. The decision about functioning or reopening of the schools will be taken at the higher level in the UT Administration,” she added.