Pakistan to begin reopening educational institutions next week

KARACHI: Schools in Pakistan will begin reopening in phases from next week following a fall in new coronavirus case numbers, officials said on Monday (Sep 7), ending a long closure that led to exam cancellations and threw students’ grades into chaos.

Higher education institutions and senior school classes will reopen on Sep 15, class six till eight will open again on Sep 23, and on Sep 30 primary classes will reopen, Shafqat Mahmood, Federal Minister for Education, told a news conference.

“It is a difficult decision, as it involves the future of children, it was not an easy decision to make,” Mahmood said, adding that success will only be achieved when parents and teachers play their role.

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The South Asian country has recorded 298,903 cases of COVID-19 and nearly 6,345 deaths but has seen a slowing of numbers since June, when it recorded nearly 7,000 infections and 118 deaths in single day.

On Sunday, 394 people tested positive for COVID-19 and three deaths were reported.

Explaining there is a need to lessen the density of students in classes, Faisal Sultan, the prime minister’s health adviser, said that if there are 40 students in a class, it should be divided in equal batches attending school on alternate days.

Speaking to reporters, Sultan requested all parents to ensure face masks for children. A surgical mask is not necessary, as even a mask made of cloth will do, he said.

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The education minister warned punitive action against educational institution not following precautionary measures.

Early last month, Pakistan opened gyms, salons and restaurants dine-in for the first time in five months after being closed down to stop the spread of coronavirus.

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