Closure of schools, how long?

Closure of schools, how long?

The government should seriously revisit its decision to continue with the closure of schools

There is sufficient evidence that vaccination of children is not a prerequisite, that opening of schools does not pose additional risk to children or their family members, and the benefits outweigh any minimal risk. An urgent priority now has to be to develop a plan and roadmap to open schools safely.

India is amongst the few countries where schools have been closed for the longest, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end-July 2021, around 175 countries had opened schools. In many, including France, Denmark, Portugal, and the Netherlands, most schools – especially primary level- had remained open even at the peak of the pandemic, or were closed only for a very short duration.

Seventeen months into the pandemic lockdown there is abundant evidence of the damage the prolonged closure of schools has done to children. UNESCO has estimated that every month away from school results in a learning loss of 2 months. The lockdown has set children back by years. An Asian Development Bank analysis has pointed out that every year of schooling lost is equivalent to 9.7% less earning in the future.

Seventeen months into the pandemic amounts to long time; not only that our children are suffering in a series of lockdown years, starting from 2014 (floods) and 2020 lockdown and now 2021 and counting, this means a student from Jammu and Kashmir, who is now preparing to crack NEET 2021 is without any professional and proper coaching to compete in a sea of competition and wherein his/her chances becomes meagre in comparison to others.

Witnessing a series of lockdowns is altogether different from the rest of the world. I think we can compromise on our food and shelter but not the career of our children since the foundation of our future generations is onto them only.

There is abundant evidence of the damage the prolonged closure of schools and coaching centres has done to the children.

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The impact of educational shutdown on the emotional and mental health of children is irreversible. During the pandemic, children confined to home experienced challenges within the family, and also trauma. In the US and the UK, studies have reported an uptick in student suicide and children are on anti-depressants; pertinently here in our part of the World the rise in suicidal cases, which is very alarming and to add salt to the wound children have now started engaging in unlawful activities and drug addiction.

A UNICEF India report in May 2020 noted that parents of one third of primary-school and half of the secondary-school children noted that their child’s mental and socio-emotional health had been compromised.

Children are naturally protected from this deadly Virus studies say.

The Coronavirus (SARS CoV2) enters the human body through the nose and mouth and then travels to lungs to develop moderate to severe disease. While children do get infected (virus reaches their nose and throat), they do not have sufficiently developed receptors in their lungs – the angiotensin conversion enzyme-II or ACE-II receptors — which the virus needs to enter the body and make a person sick. That is the reason children get infected but do not develop symptom. A healthy child is at a very low risk, ranging from 100 to 8,000 times lower than adults, depending upon the age. Although government claims to have vaccinated more than 50% of adult population in Jammu and Kashmir and there is no vaccine available for the children aging up to 17 years, so the silence of the government on the opening of schools and coaching centers is raising questions in the minds of masses.

In reality, children have been on for online classes, but a beef without mustard situation has been observed by the academicians and educationists around the globe, as the children below 12 couldn’t synchronize with the online platform for regular class work. My personal experience and the experience of my acquaintance made me to write the real outcome of online mode of teaching. My kids use to attend the online c

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In reality, children have been on for online classes, but a beef without mustard situation has been observed by the academicians and educationists around the globe, as the children below 12 couldn’t synchronize with the online platform for regular class work. My personal experience and the experience of my acquaintance made me to write the real outcome of online mode of teaching. My kids use to attend the online classes, make attendance, keep the phone on some table or a shelf and remain busy playing with each other or watching TV. Once asked why they do so, they simply say ,we don’t understand anything out of these classes. And I don’t have any option but to concur to them, because I myself couldn’t understand what the poor teacher wanted to teach. This is even more challenging to the teachers who take online classes since the personal touch, eye to eye contact, personal interaction, personal monitoring are all missing in online classes. The famous games like PUBG, FREE FIRE, CLASH OF CLANS, FORTNITE, MINECRAFT etc were found on 800% rise to the pre Covid times. As it has become their birth right to hold a mobile Phone in their hands with the excuse of online classes now. The eye sight of these little kids is getting compromised with every passing day.

Government of Jammu and Kashmir is either reluctant or slow to open the schools. This has partly been influenced by ferocious second wave and projections about the third wave. However, governments are being swayed by fake and now discredited narrative that the third wave would affect children disproportionately. Some of the public perceptions have been influenced by misleading headlines about how many children are getting infected. There is no denying that children get infected and may test COVID-19 positive. However, it is not getting an infection but what proportion of children gets a severe disease that matters. Fortunately, proportion of children who get moderate to severe disease is negligible. We have developed a scientific understanding that children are not likely to get a severe disease. Only the children with pre-existing illness or those who are on treatment for some other condition are at slightly higher risk. We need to be more careful about those children. A healthy child has a very low risk of severe disease.

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What if we are hit by a third wave and it is followed by 4th wave and so and so on, we can’t keep our eyes in anticipation and close everything for this all now.

As they say that apples cannot be compared with oranges. We can also be never compared to the other states, because of the pile of education deficit here in valley due to turmoil. So in the interest of the students and our children they should take a call on opening educational set up of Jammu and Kashmir.

Above all, the LG Government in a much appreciated manner has started rehabilitating other industries, like tourism sector, traders, transporters and others too, giving them packages, bank interest waiver etc. It is pertinent to mention here that many schools and most coaching centres are operating in rented buildings and the rental burden has cracked their spine. Two months of operation and ten months of lockdown can never go hand in hand. Government should seriously think about the sinking boat of educational industry. So the government should come up with proper road map and a package to save these institutions from further deterioration.

So the opening of schools is only logical step and need of the hour.

Our sincere suggestion to the LG Government would be to open up in phased manner, may be odd- even manner, gender manner and ratio manner. The success of the Government is determined by the education and its outcome only.

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There is abundant evidence of the damage the prolonged closure of schools and coaching centres has done to the children. (Greater Kashmir) 

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