ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday reopened schools, colleges and universities as well as wedding halls across the country, ending a six-month long closure imposed in March to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
All higher educational institutions including universities, intermediate and professional colleges reopen from September 15, today, while grades six through eighth grade will reopen on September 23 and primary schools will resume classes from September 30.
According to health guidelines issued by the government, masks are mandatory for all students and teachers, and sanitizers should be available at the gate of the school or university. Morning assemblies will not be held and students’ temperature checked before entering classrooms where chairs are to be set a safe distance apart.
On Tuesday, Pakistan reported six coronavirus-related deaths. Since the first case was reported in March, the country of 220 million people has recorded 302,424 infections and 6,389 deaths.
“Let us welcome our children and students on the first day of opening of educational institutions,” Dr Faisal Sultan, Pakistan’s defacto health chief said in a tweet. “Please don't forget basic protective steps. Masks, reduced density in classes, hand hygiene. Parents, school administrators, teachers, students - all together.”
Let us welcome our children and students on the first day of opening of educational institutions. Please don't forget basic protective steps. Masks, reduced density in classes, hand hygiene. Parents, school administrators, teachers, students - all together.
— Faisal Sultan (@fslsltn) September 15, 2020
In Pakistan, over 300,000 schools were closed in March due to the coronavirus outbreak.
While access to education was already a problem in Pakistan – 22.8 million of Pakistan’s over 70 million children are out of school – the coronavirus outbreak put over 50 million school and university-going Pakistanis at the risk of falling behind, according to Pakistan’s education ministry.
Wedding halls will also open today, Tuesday, with standard operating procedures in place, including that only close family members and relatives be allowed to attend, people don’t hug or shake hands and always wear face masks, halls only fill up to 50 percent capacity and visitors are checked for fevers with a thermal gun before entering.