A school staffer checks the temperature of a student. Schools were reopened by the government on Tuesday after the number of Covid-19 cases declined in the province. PHOTO: AFP

Back to school after 186 days

Teachers, students attend classes enthusiastically after six months break

Imran Adnan/Adnan Lodhi September 16, 2020

After a prolonged closure of over six months (186 days) the government has conditionally ended lockdown for educational institutes and wedding halls with the implementation of certain safety standard operating procedures (SOPs).

“It is appreciable that the Punjab government took efficient steps in connection with the opening of schools,” Punjab Teachers Union General Secretary Rana Liaqat Ali said.

On the first day of institute reopening, students and teachers were enthusiastic to attend schools, he added.

Reportedly, the schools had put forth their best arrangements in line with the directions given by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC).

According to the NCOC guidelines, drivers who take children to school or college should ensure social distance in their vehicles as well as conform to all the SOPs outlined by the government.

“Students and teachers wore face masks to school, while stalls to guide students about the precautionary measures to protect them from coronavirus were set up where teachers guided the students. Moreover, the students were encouraged to wash their hands by the school administrations at the designated spots marked for the purpose,” Rana Liaqat highlighted.

The government had announced the reopening of institutions on September 15, whereby in the first phase students of classes nine and 10 restarted their education at the respective schools from Tuesday.

Punjab Education Minister Dr Murad Raas also visited the schools in different areas and observed the arrangements undertaken by the government.

“Although there are issues and problems associated with the implementation of SOPs due to the shortage of funds, we are trying to ensure adherence to safety rules,” underscored Chaudhry Allahrakha Gujjar, the senior vice president of Punjab Teachers Union.

Speaking to The Express Tribune he protested that a headmaster of the school was suspended for flouting SOPs. “It was disheartening for us as we are trying our best to implement SOPs despite minimum availability of resources as no special funds were issued for the purpose.”

The notification issued by the Punjab Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department indicated that the government has also allowed wedding halls and marquees to start commercial operations from September 15 with the condition to adopt certain SOPs and guidelines.

Notification made available to The Express Tribune shows that the government has directed wedding halls to display the strength of attendees at prominent places, including entrance, keeping in view the volumetric space available vis-à-vis social distance requirement. It highlighted that district administration, including health officials, shall monitor attendance besides other SOPs of the wedding halls and marquees and punitive action shall be taken on the violation. All earlier restrictions and exemptions shall continue to remain in force, the notification underscores.

Wearing face masks will be mandatory for everyone inside the banquet hall or marquee.

The tables will be placed at a distance of minimum one meter. Food will be served at each table or a buffet system can be practised but in gaps.

Wedding hall owners have also been instructed to keep a minimum two-hour interval between different events during which the halls will be thoroughly sanitised. Halls failing to comply with the SOPs will be fined and sealed if necessary.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 16th, 2020.


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