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Government sets strict SOPs for school reopenings, makes face masks necessary

The government has asked that strict SOPs are to be followed in the reopening of schools, masks have been made necessary

The final decision regarding reopening schools across Pakistan will be made on September 7 after assessing the coronavirus situation in the country, however, all schools will have to strictly follow SOPs announced by the government, Prime Minister’s Assistant on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said on Friday.

During a media briefing, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood and Sultan issued the precautionary measures that all schools will have to follow when educational institutions reopen.

Strict instructions to be followed in school reopenings

Schools and parents will have to adhere to the following instructions after the institutions reopen:

First secondary classes will start and then primary classes will begin, making the students come in at different times.

The number of students in a class will be reduced, which means that half of the students will attend the session one day and a half will do it the other day. Students will have to wear face masks at all times.

Dr Sultan said that it’s better if the masks are made at home. Social distancing and washing hands should be strictly implemented. Sanitiser should be installed in schools and students should be encouraged to use them repeatedly.

Every student attending school in-person will have to get tested for coronavirus in two weeks. Students with lower immunity levels should not be sent to school. Students will have lunch inside class during breaks.

Read more: When is Punjab going to reopen schools?

Mahmood stressed the importance of the role of principals and teachers in the implementation of SOPs. “The student will be the responsibility of the school,” he said.

“In the last six months the educational loss incurred by students has been immense,” the minister said, adding that small schools have suffered the most during this time.

He advised that when children come back, their tests should be taken to gauge their learning levels.

Sindh wants schools to be reopened in stages

In another meeting of the steering committee headed by Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani, it was suggested that educational institutions be reopened in stages.

Classes above the ninth grade should begin on September 15, followed by secondary level classes (grades six to eight) from September 21. Ghani suggested that primary classes should begin the last, from September 28.

“We have sent the suggestions to the federal committee,” he said, adding that a final decision will be taken after the meeting next week.

Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood debunked “false news”

Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood on Friday rejected “false news” that schools across the country would remain closed till October due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mahmood tweeted that a meeting between all the education ministers will decide the likelihood of reopening schools and that too, in a phased manner.

“Some fake accounts in my name are spreading false news that schools will remain closed till Oct. Not true. Education ministers meet on 7th to finally decide with likelihood of opening on Sept 15 in a phased manner,” he tweeted.

In July, Mahmood had told a news conference that all educational institutions will reopen on September 15 if the coronavirus situation of the country improves.

He had also said that the government will review its decision in an inter-provincial meeting in the last week of August.

The minister had said that provinces will be responsible for ensuring SOPs that are followed, cautioning schools to follow the procedures laid out by the government.

In August, he chaired a conference of the education ministers of all four provinces in Islamabad where it was unanimously decided not to reopen schools before September 15.

A suggestion from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government to open schools from September 1 was rejected by all provinces.

Moreover, the spokesperson from the Sindh Education Ministry had said that no one will be allowed to reopen schools before September 15 and that legal action will be taken against those who do so.

GVS News Desk