LAHORE: Six months after Covid-19-related lockdown, the Punjab government on Monday announced reopening of all public and private educational institutions in the province from Sept 15 with certain standard operating procedures (SOPs).
Punjab Minister for School Education Murad Raas announced the opening of the institutions in three phases. In the first phase, universities, colleges and classes 9-12 would resume activities on Sept 15, classes 6-8 to return on 22nd after a review and primary schools to reopen on Sept 30. However, the private schools association has rejected the [three-phase] schedule.
He said the schools were not allowed to work in double shifts and all classes should be held on alternative days to fully implement the SOPs.
He said all the schools were directed to follow the instructions of the government and strict action would be taken over violations.
The minister also tweeted “All Public & Private Schools of Punjab to open on following schedule classes 9-12 to start on Sept 15, classes 6-8 on Sept 22 and nursery to 5 on Sept 30. No Double Shift. Alternative Day Schedule to be followed by all Public & Private Schools.”
Seek package for getting teachers tested for virus
Punjab Minister for Higher Education Raja Yasir Hamayun Sarfraz said all colleges and universities of the province would reopen from Sept 15 with Covid protocol.
On the other hand, All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (APPSF) has completely rejected the announcement of reopening of educational institutions in three phases and termed it an ‘anti-education step.’
APPSF President Kashif Mirza said the government seemed least serious in resuming academic activities. “Who will fund us to conduct coronavirus tests of a million of teachers?” he said.
Mirza said the government should announce a relief package for the teachers to help them take measures to bear the expenses of tests.
He said the government suggested continuing classes for three days in a week and did not allow double shifts. “Most of the schools did not have classrooms for all the classes and only evening shifts can address the problem,” he said.
Punjab Teachers Union General Secretary Rana Liaqat told Dawn that the government should monitor the situation in neighbouring countries whether schools were reopened there or not.
He said the government should also first release the non-salary budget of all the public schools and should also provide additional funds for taking measures to implement SOPs.
“There is no temperature checking gun in any of the public schools of the province and how the teachers will check the temperature of the students and who will provide masks to them,” he asked.
According to the SOPS, all indoor games, swings, slides and other sports activities are banned in educational institutions. There will be no seminars, speech competitions, [outdoor] sports and tournaments.
It further states that all the people will have to wear face masks and morning assemblies are also banned. Vans [meant for pick and drop] will leave 50 per cent of seats vacant in order to maintain social distancing.
Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2020