Back to schools after 187 days

By: News Desk      Published: 11:02 AM, 15 Sep, 2020
Back to schools after 187 days

Hundreds of thousands of universities, colleges, schools and madaris reopened throughout Pakistan on Tuesday, ending an over six-month-long closure due to coronavirus pandemic, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The authorities in Pakistan have planned to resume educational activities in phases 187 days after suspending them. Universities, colleges, schools (Class IX and X only) and madaris reopened on September 15 officially.

The students from class six to eight will be called to schools from September 23 and the students enrolled below class six will be called to primary schools from September 30. 

All educational institutions across the country were closed in late February after the coronavirus pandemic took roots.

According to a notification issued by the federal education ministry, to compensate for the lost time, educational institutions have decided to remain open on Saturdays and will have no winter vacations this year. 

Welcoming millions of children back to school, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday it was the priority of the government and the collective responsibility of the nation to ensure that every child could go to school safely.

"Tomorrow we will welcome millions of children back to school. It is our priority & collective responsibility to ensure that every child can go to school safely to learn," Imran said in a tweet. "We have worked to ensure that school operations are aligned with public health safety rules on Covid-19."

The closure of schools was first ordered in Sindh, where Pakistan's first coronavirus case emerged on February 26 this year. Initially, the educational institutions were closed for two days, on February 27 and 28. However, the Sindh government then closed the educational institutions for another 15 days -- March 1-15. However, as more cases surfaced in other provinces, the federal government closed all educational institutions across the country from March 16 to May 31.

On June 1, the annual summer vacations began in schools, colleges and universities. Yet, when the coronavirus cases continued in July, the closure of educational institutions was extended for another three months.

During that period all the institutions were unable to conduct annual examinations. In April, the Cambridge Board announced that it would cancel A and O level examinations all over the world, including Pakistan, and give direct grading to the students.

Later, the federal government, after consulting all the provinces, also announced the cancellation of matriculation and entrance examinations across the country and decided to promote the students directly to the next class.

In the meantime, some private and later public universities in Pakistan started a series of online classes for their students, which initially faced some difficulties, including electricity load-shedding and lack of internet access. But because of a lack of alternative, the private schools also started online classes for their students, which are still ongoing. Simultaneously, a formal formula has been worked out for the grading of the students.

On September 7, according to a joint decision of the federal and provincial governments, the authorities decided to reopen the educational institutions.

Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood has said that the decision to reopen educational institutions would be applicable to both public and private sectors, besides vocational centres and religious seminaries.

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) again on Tuesday morning issued SOPs regarding the reopening of educational institutions.

According to the NCOC, necessary instructions had been issued for the reopening of the schools, requesting the parents and the teachers to adopt safety measures, while sending their children to schools.

Send children to schools wearing masks, even if it is a cloth mask, the NCOC said, adding that if the child is having a cough or any other sickness symptoms, he or she must never be sent to school. "If the condition worsens, the child should be tested immediately," the NCOC said.

According to the guidelines, the school should be notified immediately in case a child is tested positive for Covid-19. For teachers, the NCOC directed that social distancing should be maintained between children and that children wash their hands regularly or use sanitizer.

According to the NCOC guidelines, drivers who take children to schools or colleges should ensure social distance in their vehicles and ensure that the children were wearing face masks, while sitting in the vehicles.

Sanitizers should be installed in schools and students should be encouraged to use them repeatedly. Every student attending school will have to get tested for coronavirus in two weeks. Students with lower immunity levels should not be sent to schools. Students will have lunch inside the class during breaks.