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September 24, 2020

Educational institutions violating SOPs to face action, warns CM Murad Ali Shah


September 24, 2020

Sindh’s chief minister has directed the provincial education department to ensure compliance with the COVID-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) in all educational institutions so that children can be protected from the deadly coronavirus.

The owners and administrators of the public and private educational institutions across the province that violate the SOPs must be brought to book, CM Syed Murad Ali Shah told a meeting on Wednesday that he had chaired to review the virus situation.

Education & Literacy Minister Saeed Ghani informed the chief executive that he had visited most of the schools after they reopened on September 15 and found most of them violating the SOPs.

Ghani said he then decided to delay the resumption of classes for grades six to eight, so now they would reopen on September 28. He added that during this time the schools would be able to develop the mechanisms necessary for implementing the SOPs.

The CM expressed displeasure and directed the minister to issue the necessary instructions to all the public and private educational institutions to ensure compliance with the SOPs for the sake of children. “Strict action should be taken against those who fail to implement SOPs!”

Corona update

Health Secretary Kazim Jatoi informed the chief executive that until Tuesday the province had 3,158 active COVID-19 cases: 2,092 in Karachi Division, 670 in Hyderabad Division, 118 in Larkana Division, 101 in Shaheed Benazirabad Division, 96 in Sukkur Division and 81 in Mirpurkhas Division.

The meeting was told that Sindh had eight cases in March, 109 in April, 385 in May, 904 in June, 817 in July, 186 in August and 62 in September. The CM said that the figures showed the epidemic had been at its peak in June and then started weakening, so we have to contain it further by proper compliance with the SOPs.

The meeting was told that markets, shopping centres, tourist spots, hotels, shrines and restaurants are high-risk areas, while processions, Urs, other crowded gatherings, polio and dengue health workers and office workers are also at high risk.

The meeting was also attended by provincial ministers Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho and Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, CM’s adviser Murtaza Wahab, Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah, CM’s Principal Secretary Sajid Jamal Abro, Education Secretary Ahmed Bux Narejo, Dr Abdul Bari Khan, Dr Faisal and the World Health Organisation’s Dr Sara.

School sealed

On Wednesday morning Ghani visited various public and private educational institutions in Karachi’s District East. He sealed a private school for failing to comply with the government-issued SOPs.

The minister also issued a show-cause notice over the absence of the principal of the Government Degree Science & Commerce College in Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block-7 and expressed displeasure over the poor sanitary conditions at the institute.

Ghani paid surprise visits to over a dozen institutions to check their SOP-compliance. He expressed indignation over classes of lower grades being conducted at schools, and demanded strict action against educational activities being held in the absence of masks and in violation of other SOPs.

He directed Directorate of Inspection & Registration of Private Institutions Sindh Director General Mansoob Hussain Siddiqui to take immediate action against all such educational institutions.

After the minister reached the Gulshan-e-Iqbal college, he lamented that no safety measures were found at the entrance to the institute, classes were being held in violation of the SOPs and the principal was absent.

He directed the colleges secretary to make hygiene arrangements at the college. He also ordered issuing a show-cause notice to the absent principal and other staff members. He appreciated the measures taken at various public and private schools where education was being imparted to students in compliance with all the SOPs. But he lamented that many schools had not made arrangements for social distance.

Ghani warned of taking the necessary action against those who were playing with the health of children. He said the government wanted all the SOPs complied with before the schools in the next phases of the reopening schedule were allowed to resume classes.

“We’re well aware of the obstacles to children’s education and the problems being faced by private educational institutions, but we can’t compromise on our children’s health at any cost,” said the minister.

“We’re not against the reopening of educational institutions, but we want to ensure complete compliance with the SOPs and every precautionary measure for the children’s sake,” he added.

“Some private schools are holding classes for lower grades against the orders of the Sindh government and the education department. This is a serious violation, so we’ll not shy away from taking strict action against such institutes!”