PESHAWAR: The health department has recommended sealing of two school buildings and as many classrooms in Peshawar, Malakand, Dir and Tank districts for minimum five days after detection of Covid-19 among 13 persons including staffers and students.
Twenty-five private schools were also sealed in Peshawar district for not observing the standard operating procedure notified by the government for Covid-19, according to officials.
The administration of the schools has been asked to start adherence to the SOPs that include making arrangements of students and staff to adopt social distancing measures, wash hands and wear masks.
The buildings sealed due to Covid-19 cases include Government High School for Boys Cantonment No 1 where seven staffers have been tested positive while the department has also asked the authorities concerned to shut down Peshawar Model School for Boys No.3, Ring Road that has recorded two confirmed cases.
One classroom each has been shut in Government Middle School Naurang Tank and Daffodil Private School, Malakand after confirmation of one case in both the intuitions. In Dir Upper, two cases were detected in Barawal Public School but no action was recommended because the infected persons were already quarantined in homes before reopening of schools.
Officials said that on September 15, the health department collected 1,236 samples from schools in 14 districts of which 13 emerged positive, 623 negatives while the results of 600 were still awaited. So far, the positivity ratio is 2.04 per cent.
Eight districts including Swat, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Kohat, Mardan, Chitral Upper, Dera Ismail Khan and Kohistan Upper didn’t achieve their target of sample collection while Kohistan Lower, Chitral and Bannu got more swabs than the target. Officials said that results of other samples would be available after 24 hours.
The health department in collaboration with education department is carrying out screening of the students and staff in the schools selected randomly to know the level of infection and make decisions accordingly.
Officials said the exercise would continue in the 14 high-risk districts for a week. If the positivity rate remains low, then they would include screen school inmates in the remaining districts.
The decision about closure of schools or classrooms is made jointly by health and deduction officials in consultation with the heads of the schools where the cases are detected. Presently, the government has allowed the students of 9th and 10th grades to attend classes. The decision to start middle and primary level classes would be made in the light of the ongoing exercise of screening.
Officials said they had been receiving samples, the results of which were made available the next day and communicated to the relevant districts in case of any positivity of swabs. However, in many high-risk districts, the people concerned were not collecting swabs according to the target, which was a matter of concern, they added.
They said that it was an important move taken by the government across the country to ensure that Covid-19 was on decline and full-fledged educational activities could be resumed.
“On the basis of the screening and testing, the government will make final decision about opening of all classes, therefore, we have asked the relevant people to expedite collection of samples and send the same to the laboratories,” said officials
Our correspondent from Nowshera adds: Nine staffers including teachers and Class-IV employees of Government Higher Secondary School Rashakai tested positive for Covid-19.
The number of new cases of coronavirus in the district has reached 45.
Deputy Commissioner Mir Raza Uzgan said the teachers and other staffers infected with coronavirus were quarantined in their homes. He said that two of the affected teachers belonged to Mardan and seven hailed from Nowshera.
The deputy commissioner said that the school would remain open with following strict SOPs.
Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2020