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Govt orders closure of schools as COVID infections spike

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Schools up to Class 9 ordered shut till Apr 18; Class 10, 11, 12 to remain closed till April 11

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday announced that all schools for students up to Class 9 will remain closed for two weeks from April 05 in view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the union territory.

Physical classes for students from classes 10 to 12 will also be suspended for a week, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s office said in a tweet on Sunday.

This comes days after the Jammu and Kashmir administration asked all district magistrates to take a call on the continuation of physical classes in schools amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the union territory.

“In view of rising trend in #COVID19 cases in J&K & likelihood of young children getting infected & transmitting infection in large numbers, ALL classes up to & including Class 9 in schools will be closed for 2 weeks in all schools beginning on Monday, 5 April till 18 April, 21 in J&K,” Sinha’s office tweeted.

Schools for students of classes 10, 11 and 12 will also be closed for a week, it said.

“Further, all gatherings for social and customary functions will be restricted to 200 only and after following due COVID SOPs,” it added.

Meanwhile, a formal order issued in this regard today stated that an overall assessment of the situation pertaining to the spread of COVID-19 in Jammu and Kashmir, and the trend in new cases, particularly the recent spike in the number of daily reported cases of infection and the likelihood of young children getting infected and transmitting infection in large numbers was conducted.

“On the basis of the above assessment, the State Executive Committee, in exercise of the powers conferred up on it under section 24 of the Disaster Management Act. 2005, hereby orders that all schools in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir upto and including class 9 shall compulsorily remain closed till 18.04. 2021,” the order read.

It added that the classes 10 to 12 in all schools shall remain closed till April 11, 2021 while as exams for classes 10 and 12 shall be held as per the schedule.

The order also said that there shall be a ceiling of 200 persons on all kinds of social and customary gatherings, functions, subject to strict adherence of COVID protocols already prevalent in this connection.

The order further reads that COVID SOPs, already issued on March 30, 2021, shall continue to apply in all cases.

COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir have shown an upward trajectory over the last few weeks. The union territory had recorded 501 fresh COVID-19 cases on Saturday.

Several schools in many districts were shut in the last few days after many students and teachers tested positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, in the wake of closure of schools, officials also said the decision about the functioning of the private coaching centres in J&K and attendance of staff in government schools will be taken within two days.

“The matter will be taken with the government and a final decision about the attendance of government teachers will be taken within two days. The issue of functioning of private coaching centres will also be taken up with State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMA) to arrive at a decision,” they said.

Welcoming the decision to shut down schools in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases, National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah today called for a uniform approach to fight the second wave of the virus in the union territory.

Abdullah, the former chief minister of the erstwhile state, said while shutting schools in Jammu and Kashmir was the right thing to do, letting crowds assemble at Tulip Garden was too stark a contrast to be ignored.

He was referring to a six-day festival at the garden which began on Saturday.

“Shutting schools up to class 9 in Kashmir for a couple of weeks is the right thing to do but the contrast with the hands-off approach to the crowds of visitors at the tulip garden is too stark to be ignored. A well considered uniform strategy is needed for the 2nd wave of COVID,” he wrote on Twitter.

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