A staffer checks the temperature of students on the first day of reopening of schools after almost a six-month closure of educational institutions after the spread of coronavirus. — White Star / M. Arif
A staffer checks the temperature of students on the first day of reopening of schools after almost a six-month closure of educational institutions after the spread of coronavirus. — White Star / M. Arif

LAHORE: All the public as well as private educational institutions in the province reopened on Tuesday after some six months, while a mixed response to the government directions regarding implementation of the coronavirus-related standard operating procedure (SOPs) was witnessed at the institutes Dawn visited.

Last week, an inter-provincial education ministers’ conference (IPEMC) had decided to allow all the educational institutions across the country to resume academic activities in phases from Sept 15. The primary and secondary sections would resume classes later in the month, it had decided.

The educational institutions had been lying closed since March 15, as per government directions issued weeks after the first virus case surfaced in the country.

As the educational institutes resumed academic activities on Tuesday, a majority of the students were witnessed wearing face masks and those not wearing theses said they had ones in their bags.

The teachers and other staff of these institutions were also using infrared thermometers for checking the body temperature of the students and staff, while bottles of sanitiser had also been placed at the entry points.

However, a woman employee at the gate of a government girl’s high school in a posh area of the city, had neither any infrared thermometer nor sanitiser. The students and staff members were seen entering and leaving the school without any check.

However, on seeing a media team, she started refusing entry of the students not wearing masks and using sanitisers. She did not allow a reporter to enter the school citing the principal’s orders.

One of the guards manning the gate of a government college told Dawn that the administration had directed them to check the body temperature of all the students and staff members entering the institute and those with 100 Fahrenheit or above temperatures should not be allowed to enter the campus. “I have recorded the temperature of all the visitors to the institute and did not find anyone with higher than the normal temperature,” he said. He added that the students and staff were also using sanitiser placed at the gate.

A newly-constructed water tank was also witnessed at the gate of a college where a soap bar was also placed for washing hands. But, students could also be seen standing in the corridors and classrooms without maintaining social distance.

Rehan Jamil, a student of FSc 2nd year at the Government Degree College Model Town, says he is happy to be there after the college reopened. “I have spent most of my time at home playing video games and watching movies during the closure of the college due to the coronavirus pandemic,” he said frankly. He said he and his siblings were not allowed by their parents to leave home, especially during the early days of the pandemic, but later the situation got normalised.

About implementation of the SOPs, he said the college administration had checked the students’ body temperature while they entered the campus and a water tank was also installed for washing hands.

He said only one student was allowed to sit at a desk in the classroom and attendance was short on the first day at the college after Covid break.

Meanwhile, Punjab University has been opened for the teachers and PhD/M Phil students only in the first phase.

PU Vice Chancellor Prof Niaz Ahmad visited the main gates and laboratories of various departments of the varsity to monitor implementation of the Covid-19 SOPs and asked the staff and the students to strictly adopt preventive measures.

Prof Ahmad told the media that all the teachers, students and employees had been instructed to wear masks, wash hands repeatedly and maintain distance.

He said that although the number of coronavirus patients was not alarming in Pakistan by the grace of Allah, however, there was still a need to adopt precautionary measures to keep the situation under control.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2020