KARACHI: Four private schools in Orangi Town were sealed on Thursday after Sindh Education and Labour Minister Saeed Ghani on a surprise visit to them found pre-primary classes under way there while only students of class nine to 12 have been allowed to return to school for now.

The little children attending classes were also found to be sitting close to each other and none of them were found to be wearing protective masks either. A case of violation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) has also been registered against the schools, namely, Faiz Public Academy, Way Grammar School, Allied School Campus No. 11 and Hajira Memorial High School.

There were also reports of a school in the Kharadar area and several colleges in Hyderabad being sealed for the same reason.

Meanwhile, the Institute of Business Administration Karachi said it had “suspended academic activities” for two days at both campuses in the city starting from Thursday.

The provincial education minister directed deputy commissioner West and DG private schools Mansoob Siddiqui to seal the schools immediately. He also issued a show-cause notice to the relevant education officer of Orangi Town for negligence. He directed the Sindh education secretary to ensure that the coronavirus test of teachers and staff of all public and private schools be conducted before Sept 21 and Sept 28 and to not allow those who test positive to enter the schools.

Mr Ghani said that before the reopening of schools on Sept 15, 16 teachers of different colleges of Sindh had confirmed contracting Covid-19. Therefore they have not been allowed to come to the colleges, while after Sept 15, as many as eight teachers of two colleges in Sindh were confirmed to be suffering from coronavirus. Both the colleges have been closed for disinfection.

“When it comes to children, we will not tolerate any negligence,” the education minister said. “I also urge parents to send their children to educational institutions under full SOPs,” he added.

“It was not yet time to open pre-primary and primary schools. If any school urges the parents to send their children before the set dates, the parents should lodge a complaint with the concerned Deputy Commissioner or Police Station about them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah directed the Karachi commissioner to take strict action against the management of schools found guilty of violating SOPs, adds APP.

If any school violates the SOPs, such school should be sealed at first stage and later, FIR should be registered against the management of schools, Mr Shah was quoted as saying.

In this regard, the Karachi commissioner issued directions to all deputy commissio­ners of Karachi division to ensure the implementation of SOPs in the schools.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2020