All the educational institutions in Pakistan — from nursery classes to university — are opening from Monday February 1, raising fears of a spike in cases of COVID-19 in case Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are not followed.
Earlier, Pakistan opened schools for grade 9-12 on January 18 after a break of two months.
The decision to resume sessions for the rest of the classes in the provinces and the federal territory of Islamabad is being taken in the light of the recommendations of the National Command & Operation Centre (NCOC).
According to the guidelines, academic activity will resume with strict compliance of COVID-19 SOPs and students will be divided into two groups and each group will attend classes for three days in a week.
The Punjab government has issued a notification in light of the decision made by the NCOC after reviewing the coronavirus situation in the country, according to which the board examinations for matric and intermediate students will be held in May and June.
Minister for Education Dr Murad Raas earlier shared the notification on social media saying that as per the standard operating procedures, students of all the educational institutions shall attend classes on alternative days with 50 per cent ratio on any single working day.
“The Accelerated learning Programme (ALP) communicated earlier shall continue to be followed by the Public Schools and assessment criteria and examinations schedule for 5th and 8th grade shall be communicated separately by the Punjab Examination Commission,” read the notification.
In Sindh , all educational institutions are opening with strict observance of SOPs from February 1.
According to the Sindh Minister for Education, Saeed Ghani, examinations for class 9 and 10 will be held from July 1 to July 15 instead of March and April, while the examinations for 11th and 12th will be held from July 28 to August 16.
In Islamabad’s 423 schools and colleges working under the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE), too, the academic session has been extended till July instead of March with new classes to commence from August 2.
Through a notification the FDE has conveyed to all its educational institutions about the change in the academic calendar.
The notification said the summer vacation this year would start from July 2 and continue till July 31, and the centralised annual examinations for classes from five to eight would be held between May 18 and May 31. Results would be announced on June 30.
Pakistan on Sunday reported 34 fatalities and 1,599 new cases of COVID-19 in a period of 24 hours taking the overall number of confirmed cases to 544,813 and deaths to 11,657.
According to the NCOC, there are 2,125 critical cases of COVID-19 in the country while 33,182 active cases still pose a grim challenge to the authorities. The number of recoveries since the outbreak of the virus last year are close to 500,000 with 1822 recoveries in the last 24 hours.