The winter vacation for all schools in Kashmir has been extended till February 28 by the administration. Officially the reason was given as bad weather but insiders see it as a preventive measure against the spread of H1N1 flu virus.
There are no instructions with regard to private tuition centres and the continuous function is a major concern for parents as the virus easily spreads in crowded areas. There are around 550 coaching centres where more than 50,000 students are enrolled.
"The coaching centres are also at potential risk and I fear for my children who study there and there are already allegations of overcrowding which is doubly harmful in current scenario," said a person whose two sons are studying at a coaching centre in Parraypora.
The Coaching Centres Association (CCA) of Kashmir, which forefronts the private tuition centres in the valley however denied that the centres have not been functioning. "We too have voluntarily closed down our coaching centres till further orders due to the alarming situation. For us the health of a student is of paramount importance and we cannot risk it," said G N Var, chairman CCA.
Var said that all of the coaching centres are keeping an ear to the health advisories to minimize the risk.
"All of our teachers and students have received health tips and preventive measures issued by the health department. So from day one we have been maintaining those standards and that is the reason when risk increased we closed the institutes," said Var.
Var mentioned that if any coaching centre is found violating the rules they will be penalised by the association as well as the administration.
Dr Aftab Akbar, general secretary Residents Doctors Association said, "The closing down of schools is a good thing. As of now we don't know the clear picture. The next week would be crucial as it would determine which way the graph of H1N1 flu is going, is it going up or down? Then only can we decide the future course of action. The damage is already done due to lapses in following the safety protocol. But now further damage has to be contained by all means to prevent its further spread."