Though government schools for senior students re-opened across Jammu and Kashmir after a gap of nearly six months on Monday, students, by and large, were conspicuous by their absence in at least two prominent schools of Jammu city. Similar reports also poured in from government schools in border areas of RS Pura sector.
Principal of the oldest school in the Union territory, Government SRML Higher Secondary School, Anjali Gupta said, “as per protocol, 50 percent faculty had come but not even a single student turned up today”.
She, however, added, “It was the first day and it may take parents some time to motivate themselves and their children”.
“Probably after a day or two the students desirous of clearing their doubts may start coming to the school,” she added.
Gupta informed that the entire school was fumigated and all other protocols of sanitisers, thermal screening, masks and social distancing were being followed.
Principal of Government Boys’ Higher Secondary School in Gandhi Nagar, Shafqat Chib said that no student turned up today in her school as well. Similar reports poured in from border areas of RS Pura and Arnia in Jammu district and adjoining Samba district.
“Fifty percent school staff had come as per the directions but students remained elusive,” said a teacher posted in a government school in Arnia belt. She also said that there were no proper arrangements in place.
“Cannabis of four feet height has not been cleared. There was none at the school gate for thermal screening. Three students of class 8 had come but they were not carrying any sanitisers. Further, they were not carrying the indemnity bond which has to be given by the parents,” she added. Another teacher from RS Pura sector also echoed similar views.
Sonia Gupta, a parent, said, “the decision is not only idiotic but will prove extremely dangerous. The government should restore the 4G network for hassle-free online studies rather than reopening schools that could be disastrous for our children.”
Prem Kumar, another parent, said, “Given the rise in Covid-19 cases and spiralling death toll, there is a fear among the parents. Tell me which right-thinking parent would like to send his children to the school in such a situation”.
“The government is ready to put children into grave danger but it won’t restore 4G network on the grounds that terrorists use it to their advantage. Terrorists had been using satellite phones in the 90s. So, this argument serves no purpose. The government should better restore 4G network rather than putting children into danger.”
However, principal secretary school education Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon said, “Centre has issued certain guidelines and therefore schools are being re-opened only for senior students of classes 9 to 12, that too, for consultation with teachers. Only 50 percent of the teachers have been mobilised.”
He also expressed dismay over a demand for an indemnity bond from the parents that they won’t blame school authorities if anything untoward happens of the virus infects their children. “How could be they so insensitive?” he added.
However, principal secretary education Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon informed that everything was being done in strict accordance with the guidelines issued by the Union home and health ministries, adding, “It is a voluntary exercise. Students who feel they need in-person lessons from teachers can visit their schools. Online education will continue as before.”
Jammu and Kashmir has already recorded more than 1,000 deaths and nearly 64,000 Covid-19 cases till date.