Thirteen educational institutions were closed down across the country in the last 24 hours for flouting health guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) laid down by the government to prevent Covid-19 from spreading, a statement by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) said on Friday.
According to the statement, 10 educational institutions were shut down in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while three were closed in Sindh for "non-compliance of health guidelines and protocols and disease prevalence".
In a statement issued yesterday, NCOC said that the government had closed down 22 schools in 48 hours for similar reasons. According to the statement, 16 of those educational institutions were in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one in Islamabad and five in Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi also suspended academic activities at both its campuses for two days. However, IBA Head of Marketing and Communications Haris Tohid refuted media reports claiming the varsity had shut down campuses after two students had tested positive for the virus, saying that "campuses have not been shut down, only academic activity has been suspended".
Later in the day, it was reported that three colleges had been closed down in Hyderabad division after several Covid-19 cases were reported among teaching and non-teaching staff.
Additionally, Jamshoro Deputy Commissioner Farid Mustafa directed to seal Government Degree Boys' College Bhan Saeedabad after 18 virus cases were reported among college staff.
'No risk can be taken'
Two schools in Punjab's Nankana district were sealed on Friday after the emergence of Covid-19 cases there.
Four students and one teacher were confirmed to have the virus at the two schools, one private and one government.
In a statement, Punjab Minister for School Education Murad Raas said any school that emerges as a threat for the spread of the virus in the province would be sealed.
"No risk can be taken in this regard in any situation ... the lives of students and teachers are of utmost value," he added.
Meanwhile, three schools in Quetta were also closed after Covid-19 cases were detected there, Balochistan government spokesperson Liaquat Shahwani said in a tweet.
Also on Friday, an official said 37 school teachers in Gilgit-Baltistan had tested positive for the virus.
A total of 794 tests were carried out during the last three days out of which 37 teachers' tests came back positive, according to the region's Covid-19 focal person, Dr Shah Zaman. He said most of the teachers who tested positive belonged to government schools.
Zaman said infections in GB were rising due to tourism activities and Muharram gatherings.
Schools reopen in Pakistan
Educational institutions in the country reopened on Tuesday after a six months hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic. During the first phase, grades nine and ten, and colleges and universities are welcoming students. Secondary and primary classes will resume later this month.
A day before educational institutions reopened, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that it was "our priority and collective responsibility to ensure that every child can go to school safely to learn".
"We have worked to ensure that school operations are aligned with public health safety rules on Covid-19," he said in a tweet.
According to instructions issued by the NCOC, parents have been advised to ensure their children follow SOPs, which includes wearing face masks.
“Don’t send them to school with symptoms of cough and fever. Get them tested in case they exhibit severe Covid-19 symptoms and inform the educational institution if report comes back positive.
"Ensure social distancing among children and suggest them to use hand sanitisers. Moreover, transporters should also maintain social distancing in vehicles when taking them to schools,” the NCOC advised.
With additional reporting by Imran Gabol in Lahore and Imtiaz Ali Taj in Gilgit.