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Thursday Jan 14 2021

Shafqat Mehmood says ministers to review coronavirus situation before schools reopen

Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mehmood addressing a press conference in Islamabad. — PID/File

Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mehmood on Thursday said that a meeting between education and health ministers will be held tomorrow (Friday) to review the coronavirus situation in the country and determine when to reopen schools.

His tweet came as a single question was on the lips of parents and students alike: "Are schools opening in Pakistan?"

The minister said: "While I desperately want education to continue, the final decision will be on health grounds. Students' well being will always be a priority."

On January 4, Mehmood had said that the government will make no compromise on children's health and another meeting will be held to review the latest coronavirus situation in the country.

The federal government had earlier announced a phase-wise plan to reopen educational institutes from January 18 which were closed on November 26 to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Cases on the rise

Shafqat Mehmood's remarks come as Pakistan battles a second wave of the coronavirus with cases constantly on the rise.

The country reported its biggest jump in coronavirus cases in nearly a month today.

Data issued by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) showed that 3,097 people tested positive for COVID-19 across the country on January 13, raising the national tally to 511,921.

The last time Pakistan's single-day tally crossed the 3,000 mark was on December 18 last year when NCOC reported 3,179 infections.

Find out more here: Pakistan records biggest jump in coronavirus cases in nearly a month

Punjab minister says schools will shut down if situation worsens

Meanwhile, Punjab's Minister for Education Murad Raas, during a visit to a university in Lahore, said that the schools and other educational institutes in the province would be shut down immediately if the situation necessitates.

He said that when schools do reopen, they would operate on 50% student attendance.

The minister said that classes 9-10 would rejoin school from January 18, classes 1-8 from January 25, while universities would reopen from February 1.

Read more: Murad Raas says Punjab schools will be closed at once if need be amid coronavirus

A day earlier, Punjab education minister Murad Raas assured parents of strict compliance of COVID-19 safety protocols and urged them to send children to school.

Murad Raas, in a video message, said: “We are reopening schools from January 18 and in the first phase, students of high school will resume classes. In the second phase, the students of primary and elementary schools will resume in-person learning while universities will start classes from Febuary 1.”

More on this: Punjab education minister assures parents of strict compliance of COVID-19 SOPs in schools