— Institutions allowed to take pending examinations in July
— Ensuring SOPs a must, violation to result in cancellations of tests, warns minister
ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Thursday announced to reopen educational institutions across the country, which were closed in March in a bid to curtail the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, from September 15 if “health indicators improved” by the time.
The announcement comes a day after an inter-provincial education ministers’ conference presided by Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood decided to reopen schools in the first week of September.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, Mahmood said: “The opening of schools would be delayed if the crisis persists.”
The minister further said the government will lay out the standard operating procedures (SOPs) that will be followed after educational institutions are opened. Since the government is considering the opening of educational institutions, he said, schools will be allowed to call in staff.
However, he said that staff will have to be trained and briefed about the SOPs.
Mahmood further said that the educational institutions that had to delay examinations due to the pandemic will be allowed to schedule pending tests in July. He said that the government will also relax certain restrictions on the holding of important examinations such as entry tests for admission into universities.
The minister, however, asserted that SOPs will have to be followed or the government will cancel the examinations. These SOPs would include arranging tests in the open air and ensuring distance between desks/chairs.
According to him, universities had requested permission to accommodate PhD students by allowing them to come to universities. “However they [universaties] decide to call students, the government leaves it up to them,” he said.
Commenting upon the issues attached to the holding of online classes, Mahmood acknowledged that students in remote areas were indeed a victim of technological backwardness.
The minister had suggested on Wednesday that two more meetings before September 1 will be held to further discuss the issue at hand and after consultation with the provinces, a proposal will be forwarded to the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) for a final decision.
PRIVATE SCHOOLS IN SINDH TO OPERATE IN THREE SHIFTS:
Responding to the decision to reopen schools, the All Private Schools Association Sindh announced to hold classes in three shifts with each shift spanning three hours to ensure social distancing.
Speaking to media, association’s president Tariq Shah said SOPs will be enforced to ensure protection from the disease. Under the SOPs, he said, seating arrangements, movement, recess timings will be defined.
Shah, however, lamented that the private schools were directed to collect only 35 percent of the total fee from a student which was making it difficult for the administration to cover their expenses.