Thousands of students returned to classrooms on Monday as schools in Kashmir reopened for classes 9 to 12 after remaining closed for almost a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The students attended school for the first time since March 9 last year. Over 60 per cent attendance was recorded in most government schools but the exact figures would be known after all the records have been tallied, an official of the School Education Department said.

Private schools recorded higher attendance as classrooms were bifurcated to ensure social distancing.

"Our class has a strength of 40 but today there were only 20 students in the room in view of the social distancing necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic," said Ahmad Khan, a Class 10 student of a private school.

Only those students were allowed to attend classes who had submitted the written consent of their parents.

Most private schools had asked parents to submit no-objection certificates, absolving the management of any blame in case of any health issues arising due to physical classes.

Several schools had also asked students to bring along medical fitness certificates on the first day of school.

According to a government order, schools will reopen for classes 6 to 8 from March 8 and for the remaining classes from March 18.

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