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HC Seeks Measures Being Taken To Comply With School Reopening SOPs

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Srinagar, Oct 23: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed Education Department to inform it about the measures being taken to ensure compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and the Covid guidelines on the issue of reopening of Schools at this stage.
Hearing a plea, seeking directions to the government to continue with the virtual mode teaching process to the students’ community, a division bench of Chie Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta issued a notice to Principal Secretary to Government, School Education Department and others for a response to be filed “positively” within a week.
“In view of the seriousness of the issue as stated in the application, the reply shall be positively filed within one week from today,’ the court said and posted the application for further consideration on November 12.
“N. H. Shah, learned Sr. AAG, who is representing the Education Department shall inform this Court about the measures being taken to ensure compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and the Covid guidelines on the issue of reopening of Schools at this stage,” the court said
In her plea, the applicant—Azra Ismail—submitted that the Government of India as well as the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has imposed Standard Operation Procedures and the guidelines in respect of all categories of persons uniformly that includes the private individuals as well as Government servants.
On 31 August this year, she said that the Government of J&K issued guidelines for opening of All Schools in Jammu & Kashmir but most of them had close to zero attendance.
“The teachers with 50% staff were required to attend the duties as per the roster to be adopted by the concerned head of the Schools. It needs to be mentioned that as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and guidelines the Schools which fall within the containment zones have to remain off because of the Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Government under the Disaster Management Act,” she said, adding, “However, regardless of such restrictions the teachers are being compelled by the Government to attend the Schools in contravention to the SOPs and guidelines.”
The applicant claimed that there was hardly any School equipped with sanitization material or hygienic sanitary system to check or reduce the vulnerability under the precarious conditions.
It may be pointed out that many Government schools in Srinagar city are housed in private buildings where there is hardly any lavatory facility or portal water and proper ventilation of classrooms, she said. “There is no impress account or funds at the disposal of Government School Management for making arrangements to standardize the SOPs regarding maintenance of personal hygiene and other precautionary measures in order to neutralize viral effect.”
Consequently, she said, the SOPs are likely to remain elusive for exposing the inmates to vulnerability of Covid-19 contagion especially within or around containment zones.
The applicant has sought court’s direction to the Principal Secretary School Education Department to continue with the virtual mode teaching process to the students’ community and that the teachers may be allowed to conduct the teaching process from the respective residences.
“If at all the Schools are resolved to be opened, the same may be done in consonance with the SOPs and guidelines issued by the Government of India as well as the government of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.”
She has also sought directions to Directorate of School Education to publicize the restrictions on the opening of schools or attendance of staff within containment zones in furtherance to the SOPs and guidelines.

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