'Schools will reopen on January 11, if we are able to control this deadly second wave through effective decisions,' says Umar
Planning minister Asad Umar has said that the country's schools would be allowed to reopen but only if Pakistan is able to successfully tackle the second coronavirus wave.
The schools are scheduled to reopen on January 11.
Addressing a presser alongside Prime Minister Imran Khan's aide on health Dr Faisal Sultan, he said: "Schools will reopen on January 11, if we are able to control this deadly second wave through effective decisions."
The planning minister said that the recommendations that were laid down by the state's education minister, a day earlier, were approved by the National Coordination Committee.
"Schools will continue to operate and a mechanism will be set up for education to move on uninterrupted. Provinces will take measures according to their feasibility."
Earlier in the day, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said that the decision to close down educational institutes was taken due to non-compliance with government-issued coronavirus SOPs.
"The SOPs were not being followed as they should have been," he said while talking to Geo Pakistan, adding that health department data showed rapid virus transmission in educational institutes.
Stressing that the health of children cannot be taken lightly, Mahmood said there are around 50 million students across the country i.e. one-fourth of our population. "They can become carriers. So it was necessary to shut down schools."
Mahmood pointed out that the schools were only "shut down" in the sense that students are barred from attending them in person. "We have asked schools to adopt an online mechanism."
The education minister said those schools that cannot adopt online schooling should hand out homework. "Students or parents can be called once a week to submit the homework."
Coronavirus in Pakistan: Schools will remain closed until January 10, 2021
He said that schools will remain open till December 24.
Mahmood said the decision was taken after a "near consensus" was reached during the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) meeting on Monday.