LAHORE: Office-bearers of the Punjab Teachers Union (PTU) have asked the government to refrain from opening primary and middle schools as implementing coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) for classes Prep to VIII was not possible.

PTU Central President Chaudhry Sarfraz, Syed Sajjad Akbar Kazmi, Rana Liaquat, Saeed Namdar, Chaudhry Muhammad Ali, Mian Arshad, Malik Sajjad, Mustafa Sindhu, Rana Ilyas, Rana Khalid, Mirza Tariq, Ghaffar Awan, Tahir Islam, Hafiz Nazir Gujjar and others issued a joint statement in this regard on Friday.

They said the government was planning to open primary and middle schools and ensuring implementation of the SOPs up to class VIII, but it was impossible for teachers to maintain these SOPs in classrooms. They said there were millions of children in these classes and could not maintain social distancing.

They suggested only higher secondary classes should be started.

“A second shift is not possible in this extreme heat as it starts to get very hot after 10am,” they said.

The teachers representatives said children would face problems if they attended schools in this weather while there were power outages as well as shortage of supply of cold drinking water. They said government schools lacked enough funds to provide masks and sanitisers to students daily.

“If educational institutions are opened, a large number of students can get infected with coronavirus and it will be difficult to deal with the situation,” they warned.

The union demanded Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas and Schools Education Secretary Sarah Aslam formulate a strategy for opening educational institutions in phases.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2020