The J&K government today said it intends to reopen schools in mid-June and has asked school education departments in Kashmir and Jammu to arrange safety items including masks and gloves for all students.
“The Government intends to re-open schools in mid of June 2020. I am directed to ensure safety measures in all government schools to arrest the spread of coronavirus to students and staff therein,’’ reads a communication sent by the Director Finance School Education to the Director School Education, Kashmir and Jammu.
“In this connection necessary instructions may be circulated to heads of all government schools to provide a pair of reusable masks and a pair of hand gloves to every student and ensure availability of 1,000 ml bulk hand sanitisers and 1,200 ml liquid soap with dispenser at entry point to each Government school.”
It said the expenditure on this account shall be debited to the Samagra Shiksha grants released to all institutions for day-to-day expenses.
Schools and other educational institutions in Kashmir have remained closed due the lockdown announced by the Centre to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Last year also, schools and colleges witnessed little or no classwork after the revocation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. The government imposed a strict lockdown and communication blockade on Kashmir to prevent backlash against the Article 370 move.
After several weeks, the government announced the reopening of schools but most students stayed away due to a shutdown against the removal of Article 370.
Schools reopened in March but were shut down again after the Centre announced a country-wide lockdown in March to fight the pandemic.
Around one million students are enrolled in government and private schools in Kashmir, with an equal number in the Jammu region.
The government and private schools have started online classes for students but the restrictions on 4G internet have not helped the cause.
The parents of private students have also complained that the schools have asked them to clear the fees of their wards at a time when the economic activity due to lockdown has come to a halt.
The question of fee-payments is likely to be a major issue when schools reopen in Kashmir and Jammu.
According to the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries, the Kashmir valley suffered a loss of Rs 30,000 crore since August 2019, with more than five lakh people rendered jobless.