Pakistan says schools to reopen on Sept 15 if coronavirus figures improve

In this file photo, students wearing protective masks wait for a bus in Lahore on Nov. 22, 2019. (REUTERS)
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Updated 09 July 2020

Pakistan says schools to reopen on Sept 15 if coronavirus figures improve

  • Education minister says will review coronavirus situation in August and decide if safety measures were being adequately followed
  • Pakistani schools and universities were shuttered in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s federal minister for education said on Thursday the government wanted to reopen schools on September 15 if health figures improved, raising hopes that a coronavirus hiatus imposed on education since March might finally end.

Around 22.8 million of Pakistan’s over 70 million children are out of school, according to UNICEF figures. Pakistan’s education ministry has said with schools shuttered due to the virus outbreak, over 50 million school and university-going Pakistanis were at the risk of falling behind.

The rate of coronavirus cases has been rising fast in Pakistan, with 4,983 deaths and 240,848 infections as of Thursday morning.

“We want that if health indicators are better, then we would like to open [schools] on September 15,” Shafqat Mahmood said at a press conference, adding that the government would review coronavirus figures in August and decide whether people were adequately following government-advised safety measures.

He said the government was considering various options on how to safely reopen schools, including that children attend on alternative days, the physical size of the classroom be expanded, and younger and older children come to school during different shifts in the day.

Mahmood requested provincial governments to apprise the central government of the safety measures they wished to implement so that a federal-level policy could be made. He said the provincial governments would be authozied to shut down any institutes that did not follow rules.

Mahmood also said educational institutions could open their administrative offices before September 15 and even call in students and staff for coronavirus safety drills ahead of schools formally reopening. 


Pakistan to resume middle school classes tomorrow despite rising COVID-19 infections

Updated 22 September 2020

Pakistan to resume middle school classes tomorrow despite rising COVID-19 infections

  • Dozens of educational institutions around the country were closed this week over violation of virus standard operating proce­dures and detection of new cases
  • Earlier this month, government announced it would allow the “phased” reopening of all educational institutions from September 15

ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Tuesday said middle schools across the country would resume regular classes as scheduled from tomorrow, September 23, Radio Pakistan reported, despite coronavirus cases being detected in educational institutes around the country this past week.
Schools were closed in March when the government enforced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus. Authorities started lifting strict curbs in May and last month allowed almost all businesses and the tourism sector to reopen.
Earlier this month, the Pakistani government announced it would be allowing the “phased” reopening of all educational institutions from September 15.
All higher educational institutions including universities, intermediate and professional colleges, reopened from September 15, while grades six through eighth grade were to reopen on September 23 and primary schools would resume classes from September 30.
Following the decision of the NCOC to resume middle school classes from Wednesday, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa officially announced that classes would start tomorrow. However, Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said schools in the province would reopen on September 28.
Dozens of educational institutions around the country were closed this week over violation of standard operating proce­dures (SOPs) and detection of Covid-19 cases among students, teachers and other staff.
But Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said on Saturday that a hasty decision to close down schools again would “destroy education.”
“6 months closure deeply affected the students. Decision to open was taken with great care,” he wrote on Twitter. ” Any hasty decision to close will destroy education.”

The education minister of Punjab province, Murad Raas, said on Twitter:
“All Public & Private Schools will be allowed classes 6 through 8 starting September 23rd. It is imperative for everyone to follow SOPs ... All of us have to play our part to make this successful InshAllah.”