Inside Kashmir

COVID: Schools, colleges deserted as teaching, non-teaching staff allowed to stay home

Srinagar: All educational institutes — including schools, colleges and universities — wore a deserted look on Wednesday as the teaching and non-teaching staff have been allowed to stay home in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir.

Teachers, however, were conducting online classes from home in the valley though many students alleged that they were unable to attend these classes due to non-availability of smart phones.

The COVID-19 cases have risen unabated in Kashmir valley, particularly the summer capital, Srinagar, which has recorded the major chunk of positive cases during the last about a fortnight. Srinagar alone, out of 3164 new COVID-19 cases, reported 1144 cases on Tuesday.

The educational institutes were already closed in the Union Territory since early this month till May 15 though teaching and non-teaching staff was asked to attend schools and colleges. The decision to allow teachers to taken online classes from their respective homes was taken after many teaching and non teaching staff members of government schools testing positive for the virus in the Union Territory.

However, many students, particularly from government schools, who mostly come from economically weaker families, alleged that they were not able to attend online classes as they can’t effort a smart phone. “My father works as a daily wager and due to situation in the valley since 2019, we are finding it difficult to put food on the table. So getting a smart phone at this time is next to impossible. Therefore I have not been able to attend classes… I can’t even go to a friend’s place to attend the online classes keeping in view the COVID situation,” Sabir Ahmad, a class 9th student, told UNI.

Similar views were expressed by other government and private school students.

A UNI correspondent, who visited various schools and colleges in the city — including Amar Singh college, Women’s College, MA road and SP college — saw the gates of these educational institutes closed.

“In view of the prevailing COVID situation in J&K, all Schools, Colleges, Technical education and Skill development institutes shall not require in person attendance of any member of the staff. The teaching staff shall conduct online classes only from their homes,” an official said.

He said the universities shall be permitted to seek in person attendance of minimal staff only for research/lab work. However, he said such staff of educational institutions as are needed by the concerned District Disaster Management Authorities for official duties shall not be exempted from duties on account of this Order.

As many as 3,164 new positive cases of novel Corona virus, including 656 from Jammu division and 1457 from Kashmir division, were reported on Tuesday. Twenty five people, including 10 from Kashmir and 15 from Jammu, lost their lives to the virus on Tuesday.

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