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Friday Jan 15 2021
Web Desk

Schools to reopen for students of classes 9-12 from January 18: Shafqat Mehmood

Web Desk

Federal education Minister Shafqat Mahmood. Photo: file

  • Pakistan decides to reopen schools for students of classes 9-12 from January 18 despite reporting biggest jump in coronavirus cases in nearly a month on Thursday
  • Shafqat Mehmood gives updates on phase-wise reopening of educational institutes across country after NCOC meeting 
  • Another meeting of NCOC with education ministers scheduled for next week

ISLAMABAD: Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood addressed on Friday a press conference on the reopening of schools after a high-level meeting at the National Command and Operations Centre to review the decision to reopen educational institutions amid a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here's what was decided in the NCOC meeting:

  1. Classes will start for students of grades nine to 12 students from January 18 as decided earlier. Exams are due for these students.
  2. Federal and provincial governments have decided that students will not be passed without exams this year like they were last year. 
  3. One-week extension granted for start of classes for students of grades 1-8. They were earlier supposed to start by January 25.
  4. Primary schools will reopen from February 1.
  5. Higher education institutes still to reopen by February 1 as decided earlier.
  6. NCOC will re-evaluate data in a week and decide whether primary schools and higher education institutes opening on February 1 in cities where infections rates are high is appropriate or not as infection rate differ between cities.
  7. It is possible that if infection rate is high in a particular city, educational institutes may not reopen there. 

Latest statistics show that the positivity ratio has gone down to 6.10%, but it is still high, the rate of critical patients is still as high as it was in November and so is the infection rate, he said.

"One thing is clear: all those associated with education in. politics or the government realise that learning levels of children has been severely affected because of the closure of schools," Mehmood said. 

Read more: Shafqat Mehmood surprised over students' negative reaction to schools reopening

But health is important too, the education minister said, emphasising that the need of the hour is to keep a balance between continuing education and minimising the risk to students.

NCOC meeting 

The NCOC meeting was attended by federal and provincial education ministers as well as health ministers. "While I desperately want education to continue, the final decision will be on health grounds. Students' well being will always be a priority," Mehmood wrote on Thursday.

Earlier this month, the federal government announced a phase-wise plan to reopen educational institutes from January 18 which were closed on November 26 to contain the spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile, the Punjab government has assured the parents that it will ensure strict compliance of COVID-19 SOPs in schools.

Coronavirus: LHC moved against reopening of educational institutions

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.

Sudden spike in coronavirus cases

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 on Thursday.

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

Schools reopening: Shafqat Mehmood memes storm social media

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