Extreme heatwave forces school closures for 7 days in Pakistan’s Punjab province

Amid heatwave warnings, the Punjab government has announced to close all public and private schools in the province from May 25 to May 31 to protect students from extreme temperatures.

The Meteorological Department warned last Thursday that severe heatwaves will sweep most parts of the country in the coming days, along with dust storms, thunderstorms, and heavy rains in northern areas.

Schools in Punjab are closed for 7 days, and exams are to be carried out “as scheduled”
In light of the heatwave warnings, the Punjab government decided on May 20 to close schools for seven days.

“In view of the surge in temperature and heat wave in the province, all public and private schools shall remain closed for seven days with effect from 25th May 2024 to 31st May 2024,” a notification from the provincial education department read.

However, examinations will be carried out “as scheduled”, with “necessary precautions to ensure the safety of students,” the notification clarified.

Punjab Education Minister Rana Sikander Hayat shared the notification on social media platform X, saying the safety of children is the government’s “priority.”

Last week, the provincial government had reduced the timings of all private and public schools until My 31 due to soaring temperatures.

Sindh government postpones matric exams

The Punjab government’s decision to shut schools came a day after Murad Ali Shah-led Sindh government postponed matric exams in the province from May 21 to 27.

The decision was taken “in the wake of the heat wave alert issued by the NDMA & PDMA,” the notification dated Sunday read.

“The SSC Part I and II 1st Annual Examination, scheduled to be held from May 21 to May 27 2024 are hereby postponed,” the notification added, elaborating that the exams would continue with effect from May 28 onwards.

According to the new schedule issued by the Sindh government, matric exams will now be held from May 28 to May 31.

Heatwave warnings

The Meteorological Department has forecasted dust storms, thunderstorms, and heavy rains in northern areas, and heatwave conditions in Punjab and Sindh due to high pressure in the upper atmosphere.

Pakistan’s disaster management authority warned last Thursday of severe heatwaves from May 15-30, especially in southern Sindh and eastern Punjab, with temperatures up to 40°C. Punjab’s Provincial Disaster Management Authority on Sunday warned of an “intense” heatwave in southern districts of the province, including Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, and Multan, from May 21-27.

A revised Met Office forecast on Monday predicted temperatures across the province to be 2-8°C higher than usual. In Karachi, temperatures will range from 35°C to 38°C over the next three days. The advisory described the weather as “hot and humid,” noting that areas such as Dadu, Larkana, and Shaheed Benazirabad could experience temperatures up to 8°C above normal.

Health department issues heatwave advisory

Given the instructions of PDMA Punjab, the Health Department also issued a heatwave advisory.

DG PDMA Irfan Ali Khan said that citizens are being informed about the dangers of heat wave through print, electronic and social media. “All departments can fight heat wave by working together and cooperating,” he added.

“Avoid exertion and exercise in strong sunlight,” he said. “Do not step out of the house unnecessarily […] wear light colored cotton clothes”. He urged the public to call PDMA Helpline 1129 or Rescue 1122 in an emergency situation.

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