Schools reopening

FEDERAL Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood chaired the inter-provincial education ministers’ conference on Monday and took a decision for phase-wise opening of educational institutions, which had remained closed for six months after the breakout of coronavirus pandemic. Academic activities will resume in universities and colleges and for classes 9-12 in schools from September 15. Student of class 6-8 will return to schools from September 23. In the last phase Primary schools shall be opened from September 30 for teaching students from class 1-5.
The opening of educational institutions in three phases is right and safe modus operendi. It will enable the education department authorities to monitor as to whether the required SOPs are followed by teachers, students and other staff. The number of daily reported coronavirus infections has significantly declined but the virus transmission curve has not yet flattened. If the SOPs and health protocol are not observed, then Covid-19 infection rate may be back on the upward trajectory. World Health Organisation Chief Tedros Adhanam Gebrevisus has cautioned that world must be better prepared for the next wave of the pandemic, which has emerged in Western Europe.
In its meeting of last month, National Command and Operation Center had recommended enhanced virus testing of symptomatic students, teachers and staff of all education institutionss in public and private sector. In public sector universities, colleges and Higher Secondary Schools process of checking temperature of teachers and staff with Infrared Thermometer and lab testing of nasal fluid has started in urban areas. However, nothing for sure can be said about observing this mandatory health protocol in government schools of rural areas and private educational institutions. A strict monitoring mechanism needs to be put in place.
The average number of teachers and staff is about 70 in High schools. The total strength of faculty members and staff in colleges and universities run into hundreds. The testing capability must be enhanced to arrange virus testing for all teachers and staff before the opening of each educational institution. Let us hope that provincial governments will keep close vigil on the implementation of required SOPs and health protocol.