SRINAGAR, Nov 21: The High Court has directed the Government to inform it as to what measures are being taken to ensure compliance of SOPs and the COVID guidelines on reopening of schools as announced by the Government.
The division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta has sought response from the Government through Chief Secretary of the J&K UT on an application filed by advocate Solih Peerzada who submitted that there is hardly any school equipped with sanitization material or hygienic sanitary system to check or reduce the vulnerability under the precarious conditions.
“B. A. Dar, Sr. AAG, who is representing respondent no. 1 shall also file the reply to the instant application. Counsel for the applicant shall also furnish a copy of this application to him within three days from today”, Court said.
It directed the Education Department to inform the Court about the measures being taken to ensure compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and the COVID guidelines on the issue of reopening of schools at this stage.
It is mentioned in the application that practice of opening schools without following the SOPs may expose the inmates to vulnerability of COVID-19 especially within or around containment zones and SOPs as declared are likely to remain elusive.
It may be noted that the Government of J&K UT vide its order on 31.8.2020 issued fresh guidelines on lockdown measures with 50% of teaching and non-teaching staff to permit to be called to schools for online teaching and related work outside the containment zones.
The order also provides to permit the students of class 9th to 12th to visit their schools outside the containment zones on voluntary basis with written consent of their parents as per the SOPs issued by the MoHFW.
Advocate Solih submitted that it has become imperative for the Secretary Education Department to submit before the court any order which has been issued regarding the opening of schools in containment zones.
“One there is a strict direction from the concerned District Disaster Management authorities to restrict the entry of public in containment zones, therefore the opening of schools in containment/red zones becomes questionable”, Advocate Peerzada mentioned in his application.
He informed the court that the Director School Education Kashmir has failed to implement the SOPs and guidelines in respect of containment zones and red zones declared by the Government and has violated the SOPs and guidelines of District Disaster Management with impunity as such sought action against all the officials responsible for the reckless exercise endangering human life.
He prayed that Principal Secretary to School Education Department be directed to continue with the virtual mode teaching process to the student community. “That if at all the schools are resolved to be opened, the same may be done in consonance with the SOPs and guidelines issue by the Government of India as well as the Government of UTs of J&K and Ladakh”, read the prayer in application.
For Disaster Management, it is prayed that the said department through its Chairman be directed to implement the provisions of Act and see as to whether the COVID-19 SOPs laid down are being fulfilled by the School Education Department.