COVID-19: Govt to review decision to reopen schools, says Shafqat Mahmood


ISLAMABAD: The federal government will review its decision to reopen schools in the first week of September, said Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood on Friday. 

Talking to a private news channel, the minister said private educational institutions could only call their teachers and administration staff on duty before September 15 but the government schools would be never allowed to call their students before a final decision, as there could be no compromise on the health of students.

“Schools and colleges across the country will reopen only after the coronavirus pandemic is over,” he added. He said strict SOPs, including spaced-out seating arrangements, division of classes into further sections and change in timings could be some of the measures that schools will have to adopt whenever they were reopened.

“We are considering every possible option. We will try to adjust things like whether to hold the annual exams this year, or defer tests to next year”, he said. “The final decision would be taken by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), which monitors and acts upon the developments to stem the spread of coronavirus in the country,” he mentioned.

He further said specific tasks would be created for teachers in schools and responsibilities for ensuring health and hygiene would be defined before schools reopen. “We want to end the uncertainty as soon as possible with the consultation of all stakeholders on the basic important issue like education,” he said.

Shafqat also requested the private schools to follow the SOPs devised by the government. He said schools must look at how they could reopen with better implementation of SOPs and more comprehensive support for children at the school including health, water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. He made it clear that all SOPs would be designed by the federal ministry, but the provincial governments would be allowed to alter them as per the situation in their respective provinces.

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