Govt decides to reopen schools in phases

Universities and higher educational institutions to reopen across the country from February 1, says Shafqat Mehmood

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Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood speaks during a news conference today. Photo: YouTube

  • Schools to reopen for primary classes-grade VIII from January 25, says Shafqat Mahmood
  • Classes for grades IX-XII to resume from January 18
  • Universities and higher educational institutions to reopen across the country from February 1
  • Board exams postponed to May and June

KARACHI: Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced on Monday that schools and educational institutions will reopen across the country in three phases.

"On January 18, classes for grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 — those that have exams — will resume," he said during a news conference along with SAPM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan. "This means that students of grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 will go to their schools and colleges from January 18 and their studies will resume."

He said that in the second phase, students of primary classes till grade 8 will return to schools from January 25.

The minister said that universities and other higher education institutions will reopen from February 1 in the third and last phase.

Reopening schedule:

  • Online learning can resume from Jan 11
  • Classes 9 to 12 would start from Jan 18
  • Classes 1 to 8 would start from Jan 25
  • Higher education classes at universities and colleges to start from Feb 1
  • Board exams have been postponed to May and June
  • Another meeting on January 14 to review the situation

Speaking on the occasion, SPAM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan said they noted a decline in infection rate after the educational institutions were closed and urged the masses to keep following the safety protocols announced by the government.

The SAPM added that keeping in view the current data we decided to further delay the reopening of schools.

Meanwhile, Shafqat Mehmood said the administrative staff and teachers can resume their duties at schools, colleges and universities from January 11. "Online and home-based learning, can also be held from January 11," he said.

The minister announced that board exams have been postponed till May and June as students did not have enough time to prepare for their exams.

Mahmood said that another meeting will be held on January 14-15 by the education ministers to review the health situation in the country. He reiterated that the decisions had been taken after consulting all provinces.

Prior to Mahmood's press conference, Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas tweeted that classes from grades 9-12 will resume in the province from January 18 while those from ECE to 8th grade will resume from January 25.

"Universities to open on February 1st, 2021. All institutions will have 50% students on alternate days as before," he tweeted. 

The federal government, on the recommendation of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), had closed all the educational institutions including madrassahs from November 26, 2020 to January 10, 2021.

Read more: Private schools want classes to resume from January 11

Under that plan, schools were to reopen on January 11. But the rising spread of the novel coronavirus across the country had cast a shadow on that decision with federal and provincial education ministers saying that it was "unlikely" educational institutions would be allowed to reopen.

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood chaired the meeting while all the provincial ministers attended the conference via video link. The final decision regarding the reopening of schools was taken after advice from the health ministry on the matter.

Read more: Will the academic year in Punjab be extended?

It may be noted here that although education is a provincial matter, under the 18th Amendment, the provinces adopted Centre's policy owing to a Supreme Court decision directing for a uniformed policy to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

It may be added here that private schools associations across the country have opposed keeping schools shut.

On Thursday, a private school council demanded the government reopen schools on January 11 as planned and also sought an economic relief package. "The government should suspend the registration fee and taxes for a year."