The provincial governments, in consultation with the centre, are no longer accepting further disruptions in academic activities. Almost after a break of six months, the Punjab government has decided to open educational institutions from 15th September. While the government will open schools in phases, it would have been better if it had opened selected schools in every district on a trial basis. Only after gauging the results of the trial openings, the government should have opened the schools in phases.

Nevertheless, the significant reduction in COVID-19 cases has encouraged Punjab to take a bolder approach. However, the real challenge lies somewhere else. Ensuring that the schools adhere to the issued protection measures will be the actual test of the authorities. The officials must understand that schools will turn into places where people will interact in close proximity. It is impossible to keep children away from keeping close contact with each other. Making students observe social distancing will turn an arduous task for schools’ officials.

The government still has a few more days to do further deliberations. It can remove the loopholes, if any, in its issued guidelines. Before anything else, the provincial government must constitute inspection teams to ensure that the school administrations are following all the precautions. According to the latest survey, only 37 percent of parents are ready to send their children to schools. The parents think that the overall situation is still precarious and can prove perilous to their children’s health and safety.

Students’ safety is a collective effort. Schools, local officials as well as parents need to fulfil their respective roles in keeping children safe from contracting the virus. While parents must equip their children with protective kits against the virus, the schools must also not let sick students attend classes. Those that do fall sick must be given special considerations until they are back studying.