J&K Authorities Reopening schools Amid the pandemic

J&K Authorities Reopening schools Amid the pandemic

J&K Authorities Reopening schools Amid the pandemic

There should be no compromise on the SOP's with main emphasis on wearing masks and keeping a safe distance.

Srinagar, February 20, 2021 :

We are grappled with a pell-mell situation, bearing the brunt of unprecedented Covid – 19 crises. 

It has trapped us in a mire of colossal economic losses, and palpable emotional setbacks. 

While we were consoling ourselves to get to terms with the changes and consequences of a particular situation in Kashmir, Covid-19 pandemic struck and caught us off guard. We are helpless before the vagaries of situation. 

We are suffering due to worrying state of affairs, and covid sunk us further deep into a quagmire.

It has been almost a year since the outbreak of Pandemic. 

So far there are nearly 1951 deaths, 125463 were positive cases and 122883 have already recovered ( at the timing of penning down this column). Fortynately, it amounts to 98% of the success rate. 

In terms of its global impact and mortality rates in other countries, we should be thankful that we can still breathe. 

Given the psyche of Kashmiri people, we are one kind of a race who are least bothered by any calamity. Surprisingly, many people still believe, pandemic is a fabricated lie. 

When other deadly variants of Covid – 19 virus are mutating and hovering over, we very casually throwing the SOP’s to wind. 

We are doing our daily activities without taking any precautions. 

One is surprised to see over loaded public transport, patients thronging hospitals, street hawkers hustle up credulous customers in the Sunday market, hordes of students attending coaching centers.

Much has changed now. Everywhere there is cacophony and clamor.

We can be clueless about the uncertain future but not careless to ignore the main pressing concerns.

We are still in a quandary but that doesn’t mean we have to ignore and skirt a debate or discussion on matters of concern. It’s deeply distressing to see our children losing two precious academic years. Without any respite, they are suffering both physically and psychologically at the helm of affairs. We have been harping and broaching the subject incessantly. If all other state of affairs are being run normally there is no point for the schools to remain closed. The schools should be opened and operated at the earliest based on the following valid reasons and past experiences.

School is a school :

We have been confronting toughest challenges to manage our kids at home. Almost everyone has come to the realization that nothing can replace schools where children are being taught and trained to excel in different fields. 

Due to covid – 19 contagion, we had to opt for home schooling which was not an easy task. It really takes a lot of patience to bear with the tantrums of children. 

As a matter of fact this reveals how much effort teachers are putting in to mould and motivate kids to be obedient and outstanding. School is a sacred place where they not only learn but it also prepares them for life. 

They get the exposure which they cannot get anywhere else. Their energies are channeled properly in studies and extra curriculum activities. 

At the end of day, they are exhausted and their aggression is subdued. Imagine when the same children have to stay at home for more than 555 days what is going to happen during their complete stay at home?

Where they left, there they are :

If schools will reopen from March-2021, govt teachers have to put an extra ordinary effort to restart things where they had left. The students who were studying in 6th in 2019, had been promoted to 8th standard in Year 2021. 

The bitter truth is they have fallen behind and are back to square one. The teachers have to bear in mind that they have to start from the scratch.

Online teaching troubles :

It was neither easy for teachers nor for students to manage the online classes with the 2G connectivity. It is very difficult for the students to remain glued to smartphones for many hours at a stretch.

Out of compulsion and lack of options, it might be the only choice but honestly speaking it has now become redundant and taking a heavy toll on the health of students due to posture problems and eye sight issues. 

As per the renowned paediatrician of the valley Dr. Jasmine Shafi, the prolonged use of smartphones has also given rise to sleep disorders ; and he strongly recommends that after 5 pm, the children should not be allowed to access phones.

In addition to above online teaching drawbacks, sometimes it’s difficult to keep pace with teachers and jolt down the things. 

In such cases, the students have to be supervised which is also one of the reasons why online classes have become distasteful.

Digital Divide :

It has been a veritable roller coaster ride for the people who lost their jobs due to the economic crisis catalysed by the Covid – 19 pandemic. 

The poor have become poorer. Arranging a square meal has become a daunting task for majority of the population. 

How is it possible for them to even think of buying a smartphone so that their children can have online classes. 

In reality the online classes have widened the gap between those who can afford it and the ones who have no means to avail this luxury/access to the education.

Lack of physical activities and interactions:

The last two years have been toughest ones especially for the children who couldn’t help but stay at the home. 

The physical inactivity and losing touch with their school friends have led them to obesity and anxiety. 

Nothing can replace the physical interactions with your friends. It acts as a bulwark against the emotional vulnerabilities.

Way Forward :

As the reopening of schools is on the cards and before proceeding ahead, all the stakeholders have to hammer a deliverable strategy so that everything will fall at its place. 

Among the mounting concerns, the due care has to be taken for the health and hygiene of the students and teachers. Sanitation and seating arrangements should be done properly. 

There should be no compromise on the SOP’s with main emphasis on wearing masks and keeping a safe distance. The vaccination programme for teachers and students should be the top most priority for the Directorate of Health Services. 

The school authorities have to come up with the schedules and strategies that will create the win-win situation for the working parents who have no one to look after the children at their homes. The school transport should be operated as usual. 

Lastly, we can overcome the economic crises but academic losses are irreparable. 

Schools make the path to recovery. If not now, when?

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