ISLAMABAD: The education ministers have decided that all schools in Pakistan will be reopening in phases starting September 15 under strict implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs) to keep the spread of the coronavirus under control.
The decision regarding reopening of all educational institutes was taken in a meeting of all provincial education ministers on Monday chaired by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood.
The meeting was attended by Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, Higher Education Commission (HEC) chairperson and executive director and officials from the health department were also present at the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC).
Educational institutes have been closed since March when the coronavirus first broke out in the country. The purpose of today’s meeting was also to finalize the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and send the recommendations to the National Coordination Committee for final approval.
According to the education ministers, schools in Pakistan will be reopening in a phased manner with classes 9 and up (which includes colleges and universities) to reopen from September 15, classes 6-8 to resume from September 22 while kindergarten, primary to grade 5 would reopen from September 30.
UPDATE: However, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood in a press conference alongside Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Faisal Sultan stated that a committee will be set up to inspect and monitor the situation at schools on a daily basis.
Primary schools to class 5 will only be allowed to reopen on September 30 if the situation remains stable according to the federal education minister. He further stated:
In the next phase, decisions relating to [holding] examinations will be taken,
Schools in Sindh reopening in phased manner
Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani also agreed to the decision and said all schools in Sindh will be reopening in phases from September 15 till September 30.
However, schools in areas where there is a surge of coronavirus cases in witnessed will remain closed to curb the spread of the disease.
Furthermore, wearing of masks will be mandatory and a strict implementation of standard operating procedures was required. The education minister clarified that action will be taken against violators.
Schools in Punjab reopening with 50% capacity in one day
Schools in Punjab will also be reopening with the same phased manner between September 15 and September 30 but with 50 percent capactiy in one day according to the Provincial Education Minister Murad Raas.
The Education Minister took to Twitter with the final decision taken by the provincial ministry saying:
All Public & Private Schools of Punjab to open on following schedule. Classes 9-12 to start on 15th. Classes 6-8 to start Sept 22nd. Classes Nursury-5 to start on 30th. No Double Shift. Alternative Day Schedule to be followed by all Public & Private Schools.
Murad Raas further stated that only 50 percent of students will be allowed to come to school in one day. The education minister said:
All Public and Private Schools to allow only 50% of students in one day. Alternative days will have the other 50% students. No Double Shift on a single day will be allowed.
KP reopening schools, will conduct random testing
Khyber Pakthunkhwa will be conducting random coronavirus testing for school staff and teachers according to a notification issued by the Provincial Education Department.
The notification states:
Health Department’s teams will be visiting public and private educational institutions to conduct random tests of teachers / staff / students / canteen vendors and all those persons who are working within the premises of educational institutions in an effort to detect COVID-19 positive cases and prevent the spread of disease,