Jammu and Kashmir has opted to reopen schools and other professional institutions keeping in view the Unlock 4 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs last month. With this the Union Territory has joined the group of three states of Assam, Haryana and Karnataka. Rest of the country is treading cautiously, as the issue involves young children, who in their prime youth are adventurous in nature. Therefore, using masks and maintaining social-distancing will be a tall order for them once in the midst of classes and school mates.Unlock 4 guidelines allow schools to partially reopen from 21 September, stating that students from Classes 9 to 12 will be allowed to visit teachers for a limited time to seek guidance. Parent consent is mandatory, and the relaxation doesn’t apply to containment zones. The Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare allows only 50 per cent of teaching/non-teaching staff on the premises, and attendance is not mandatory for students. After reopening Schools will also have to schedule activities and chart out a seating plan to ensure physical distancing of 6 feet, wherever feasible, among students and teachers. Assemblies, sports and events that can lead to overcrowding have been strictly prohibited. Can Jammu and Kashmir afford such a luxury of exposing young people to virus that has increased alarmingly and menacingly in the recent weeks? Jammu is hotbed of pandemic with cases rising on jet-speed due to multiple factors. The city is the gateway to the entire Valley and the Union Territory of Ladakh. Influx of people for various pursuits, like commerce and pilgrimage, has increased the vulnerability. In such a scenario, making a decision of sending a child to the institution is really hard. Children have started venturing out of homes though in little numbers. This will certainly motivate, promote and inspire others to follow the suit, which will dilute the barriers of going out of home. Now that the process has been set in motion, fingers remain crossed.
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