Nearly 6 months after the Coronavirus pandemic sent 50 million students home, worried about their educational prospects and future grading, 300,000 educational institutions across the country are now reopening on September 15th. After a wide consultative process and thorough research conducted by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), this decision was reached.
Addressing a press conference, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood stated that due to the downward trend of Coronavirus cases in the country, all higher educational institutes, including universities, professional institutes and vocational institutes, as well as classes from 9 to 12 will be reopening for in-person sessions.
A week later, after review, on September 23rd, classes six, seven and eight will be allowed to return to schooling following a review. Shortly after, primary schools are set to reopen in the last phase. “In the next phase, decisions relating to (holding) examinations will be taken”, Mahmood reported as well.
"This is a huge decision”, the minister said, thanking students and parents for waiting these past few months. “They were difficult times but everybody was patient.”
SOPS IN SCHOOL:
Dr Faisal, Special Assistant to the Minister on Health stated that it was vital to decrease the number of students per class in order to decrease the possibility of spreading the infection.
Parents are encouraged to cooperate with the management of schools and colleges. “Parents should make sure that if their child is sick, he/she should stay at home as your coming to school can infect another person”, Dr Faisal said. Parents have been urged to communicate the importance of face masks and over-all hygiene (that have been made compulsory) to their children.
Provincially, according to Punjab Education Minister Dr Murad Raas, all public and private schools in Punjab were to have alternative shifts to allow 50% of students in one day and the other 50% the next. “No double shift on a single day will be allowed”, he tweeted. In KPK, the provincial education department has decided to conduct coronary tests on school staff and students as well. Sindh and Punjab are both opening schools phase-wise and KPK is following the decision of the Federal Government as well.
There will be strict monitoring of educational institutes by the governments and authorities in order to ensure SOPS are followed. Schools in any area that may witness a rise in the number of Coronavirus cases may be closed.
“Though it is correct that over 6,000 active cases of the Covid-19 have been left in the country, the biggest challenge, which can trigger spike of virus, is just ahead as we are going to open educational institutions in 10 days,” federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said in a statement.
The Educational Minister also reported that failure to comply with SOPS would result in action against the institute. Parents, teachers and students will have to cooperate, “only then will we be able to succeed”, he stated.