Punjab shortens school hours as country braces for a scorcher

Heatwave alert issued for province from May 21 to 27

ADNAN LODHI May 17, 2024


As the county on Friday experienced searing temperatures, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) Punjab issued an alert for heatwave, rains, and storms expected this month.

A wildfire erupted in the scenic Margalla Hills National Park in the late evening hours of Friday due to heatwave impact and strong winds that raged the fire in the three kilometers stretch of Loi Dundee area of the federal capital.

According to the PDMA spokesperson, Punjab is bracing for a scorcher from May 21 to 27. Ahead of the heatwave, dusty winds and thundershowers are anticipated across most districts of the province until May 18.

Rain with strong winds is in the forecast for Rawalpindi, Murree, Galyat, Attock, Chakwal, Mandi Bahauddin, Gujrat, Jhelum, and Gujranwala. Thunderstorms and showers are set to lash Lahore, Kasur, Sialkot, Narowal, Okara, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Jhang, Khushab, Sargodha, and Mianwali.

Temperatures are expected to climb an average of 8 degrees Celsius, with the mercury hovering 6 degrees Celsius above normal as dry conditions will prevail.

Following instructions from the chief minister of Punjab, district administrations have been alerted to prepare for the extreme weather.

The public is advised to exercise caution amid the increasing intensity of heat and potential cold snaps. Those working outdoors in the afternoon are urged to avoid exposure to hot winds.

Alerts have also been issued to various departments, including health, irrigation, construction and communication, local government, and livestock.

Director General Irfan Ali Kathia announced that the Information Department, WASA, Punjab Police, and Civil Defense have been notified to take necessary precautions.

Citizens are advised to seek shelter during lightning and storm conditions. "People should never go under the open sky during lightning and stormy conditions," emphasized Kathia.

In case of emergencies, residents are encouraged to contact the PDMA Helpline at 1129 or Rescue 1122, the spokesperson added.

School timings shortened

Meanwhile, in response to severe heatwaves expected to sweep across the country, the Punjab government announced on Friday the reduction of school hours for all public and private schools from May 18 to May 31.

Read Bahawalpur, RY Khan brace for heatwave

The adjustment, effective from May 18 to May 31, aims to safeguard students and staff during the extreme weather conditions forecasted for the coming days.

According to a notification from the Punjab government's school education department, schools will operate from 7am to 11:30am on Mondays to Thursdays and Saturdays, and from 7am to 10am on Fridays.

The measure is intended to minimise exposure to the harsh afternoon heat.

The notification also outlines several precautionary steps for school heads to follow, including ensuring all fans are operational, water coolers are available, and students are not made to sit in open spaces or on school lawns during the day.

Chief executive officers and heads of institutions were urged to comply with these instructions rigorously.

Punjab Minister for School Education Rana Sikandar Hayat highlighted the urgent need for climate action, stating that everyone has a "vital role to play in mitigating the effects of climate change."

Additionally, a separate notification announced that all schools in Punjab will be closed for summer vacations from June 1 to August 14, with the new school year beginning on August 15.

Amid extremely hot weather in Punjab, parents and teachers of public and private sector schools are demanding from the provincial government to ensure provision of facilities at schools to subside the severity of the harsh weather.

"The situation is terrible at government schools due to loadshedding and absence of basic facilities. However, the government took the right decision of revising the school timings in May and early start of summer vacations from June 1, said Rana Liaquat Ali, Secretary General Punjab Teachers Union".

As per government’s notification, the timing of schools in Punjab will remain from 7am to 11:30am, which will be further reduced to 10:30am on Fridays.

Punjab Education Minister Rana Sakandar Hayat said it is clearly advised to the schools administrations that all fans in the schools should be in working condition while there should be availability of cold water at all schools. “All schools administrations are also instructed that no students should sit in the open sky; otherwise, a departmental action will be taken, he added.



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