(National): Call for strict observance of SOPs by schools

Karachi:Sports legend Shahid Afridi has said that the government and private schools after their reopening should religiously follow the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for COVID-19 given by the state, as any leniency in this regard is likely to create irreversible damage to the health of students, teachers and communities at large, in addition to the cause of education that already has been adversely effected over the past six months.

“These SOPs should not be neglected as like any other set of government’s rules that are generally disregarded by us as a national habit like the traffic laws as our future will be at stake if schools will not follow the guidelines against the spread of coronavirus,” said Shahid Afridi while speaking at a press conference at Wangi Goth, (Manghopir Road) one of the eight SAF (Shahid Afridi Foundation) schools run by his charity in Karachi.

SAF runs these charitable schools with the Green Crescent Trust (GCT) as their implementation partners. Although the Wangi Goth School is set to reopen from September 21, 2020, as per the decision of Sindh government, a model class was especially arranged with presence of students and teachers to demonstrate observance of the SOPs in the real situation as both Shahid Afridi and GCT CEO Zahid Saeed witnessed the demo.

The GCT and SAF joined hands with HSE Department of their joint donor the Indus Pharma to prepare the school SOPs whose practical demonstration was also given during the press conference. Shahid Afridi briefed media persons on the occasion that SOPs were largely based on the international document on this issue jointly prepared by globally renowned organizations the WHO, UNICEF, and IFRC.

The GCT CEO Zahid Saeed also spoke on the occasion on the importance of school SOPs for safety of students and teachers. He also said that the SOPs authored by the two charities in active consultative support by INDUS PHARMA-HSE Department; would be adopted by all the eight SAF schools as well as 150-plus charitable schools of the GCT in remote and rural parts of Sindh where 29,000 children of the underprivileged families were enrolled.

Also on the occasion, Shahid Afridi and Zahid Saeed appealed to the concerned donors, philanthropists, corporate sector and well-off persons to come forward and support the joint charitable drive of the SAF and GCT to educate children of the needy families in Sindh, wholeheartedly. “The cause to educate children of the deserving families on charitable basis has been severely affected as the economy drastically shrunk due to Covid-19,” they said.

Afridi, Chairman, Shahid Afridi Foundation (SAF) said that if schools did not follow the SOPs then it would be likely for the government to order closure of educational institutions yet again, if they emerged as a major cause owing to the spread of coronavirus in Pakistan. “Where would we stand, if schools are closed again, as it will certainly be a massive setback to the education being imparted to our children,” he said.

He said that strict observance of SOPs would also be necessary because any violation of the Covid-19 safety precautions would eventually compromise the health of millions of students, their families, teachers, and other school staff. “These school-goers are our future as we will be directly responsible for threatening the lives and health of our coming generations if we fail to implement these SOPs.” he said.

He said that the federal and provincial governments should take charge of the responsibility and devise a proper monitoring mechanism including a penal system to ensure that these SOPs were implemented across all the educational institutions by all means.