Punjab to conduct pool testing as schools reopen next week
The Punjab government has decided that it will conduct pool tests for the novel coronavirus and increase the testing capacity of its laboratories as schools prepare to reopen next week.
The decision to reopen the schools on September 15 was announced by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood on Monday after a meeting of the federal and provincial education departments.
The NCOC ordered authorities to conduct coronavirus tests in different schools in all the provinces, said Captain (retd) Muhammad Usman Younis, the secretary of Punjab's Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department.
Sample testing will be conducted in 986 high-risk educational institutes, he remarked, adding that samples will be taken from 383 education institutes after every 15 days.
Random sampling will be carried in 603 schools, colleges and universities. Every day, 5,000 tests will be conducted which means 70,000 people will be tested in 14 days.
The districts where the most number of cases have been reported will be put in Category-1 and more tests will be conducted here. The government has made a plan of conducting 49,000 samples in 15 days in the Category-1 districts.
Twenty thousand sample tests will be conducted in districts that fall in Category-2 and Category 3, Younis added.
Sindh to reopen schools in phases
Universities, colleges and class IX and X will resume from September 15. The students from class VI to VIII will be called to schools from September 23 and the students enrolled below class VI will be called in from September 30.
Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani has said that schools in the province will reopen in phases between September 15 and 30 starting from universities and classes nine and 10.
From September 22, classes six to eight will resume sessions and last, primary classes will begin from September 30. Ghani said that if the number of coronavirus cases in any area spikes, the educational institutions in that area will be closed down.
SOPs for schools
Wearing masks, practicing social distancing and using sanitiser has been made compulsory for all students, teachers and staff members. Students with a flu or cough will not be allowed on campus.
Failure to comply with the SOPs will result in fines for the schools.
Earlier, the federal government had issued a SOPs that schools will have to follow. These include:
- First secondary classes will start first after which primary classes will begin
- The number of students in a class will be reduced, which means that half of the students will attend the session one day and the other half on 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
- Sanitisers 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
Educational institutions will remain open on Saturdays and will have no winter vacations this year. The institutions have been instructed to hold special classes on Saturdays.