Of students and schools

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The Union government’s decision to make available more than two crore additional COVID-19 vaccine doses to states this month with the directions to vaccinate all school teachers on priority before Teachers’ Day on September 05 is a welcome one that would help the authorities to pave way for opening of educational institutions at the earliest. Schools across the country were closed in March last year ahead of a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of novel coronavirus infection. The Centre had allowed the reopening of schools as per the COVID-19 situation in October last year. While several states began partial reopening of schools, there was a complete closure again in April when an aggressive second wave of COVID-19 hit the country. With an improvement in the COVID-19 situation again, several states have begun reopening schools now even as concerns have been expressed over the staff and teachers not being completely vaccinated. It is in this backdrop that the Union Health Ministry has made this decision.

The Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory administration too has to come up with a special package for the vaccination of teachers and other staff. While the students all over the world have suffered because of Covid 19, in Jammu and Kashmir, the educational institutions remained closed even before the spread of pandemic. Though e-learning has been introduced here by not all the students have access to smart phones or internet. Besides virtual schooling cannot be an option for longer duration of time. For students, particularly the younger ones, schools are the basic institutions that clear their concepts about the society and sharing. Making friends, interacting with mates, discussing with teachers, playing with friends is what helps their overall intellectual, social, psychological as well as physical growth and development.

Now that the Union health ministry has decided to dispatch more than 2 crore additional vaccine doses to the states and UT’s from August 27 to 31 to vaccinate school teachers and non-teaching staff on a priority basis, the administration here too such accelerate the process. While opening of schools is a real big challenge and the government is not supposed to take any hasty steps that could endanger the well being of students, the concerned authorities need to think innovatively to ensure that the children don’t remain away from schools any longer. While vaccinating the teachers and non-teaching staff would be a great initiative, the schools could be guided to divide the classes on odd even basis so that a class room normally having forty students would have only twenty present on a particular day. This step will help the school management to ensure that the Covid protocol is followed in letter and spirit. Besides, the school administration needs to ensure hygiene of the premises and have ample supply of water to washrooms to help children to maintain cleanliness.

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