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Web Desk
January 14, 2021

Murad Raas says schools will shut down immediately if coronavirus situation worsens


Web Desk
Thu, Jan 14, 2021
Punjab's Minister for Education Murad Raas. — Radio Pakistan/File

Punjab's Minister for Education Murad Raas on Thursday said that the province's education institutes will be shut down immediately if the coronavirus situation in the country worsens, ahead of a scheduled reopening of schools next week.

The minister, during a visit to a university in Lahore, said that students' education had suffered the most due to coronavirus.

He said that when schools do reopen, they would operate on 50% student attendance.

Speaking about the challenges faced by educational institutes amid the pandemic, he said: "More than 122,000 schools are operating in Punjab, we cannot have two shifts — morning and evening."

The minister said that classes 9-10 would rejoin school from January 18, classes 1-8 from January 25, while universities would reopen from February 1.

Meeting between ministers tomorrow

Meanwhile, Minister for Federal Education Shafqat Mehmood said that a meeting between education and health ministers will be held tomorrow (Friday) to review the coronavirus situation in the country and determine when to reopen schools.

His tweet came as a single question was on the lips of parents and students alike: "Are schools opening in Pakistan?"

The minister said: "While I desperately want education to continue, the final decision will be on health grounds. Students' well being will always be a priority."

Raas assures parents of strict SOP compliance

A day earlier, Raas assured parents of strict compliance of COVID-19 safety protocols and urged them to send children to school.

Murad Raas, in a video message, said: “We are reopening schools from January 18 and in the first phase, students of high school will resume classes. In the second phase, the students of primary and elementary schools will resume in-person learning while universities will start classes from Febuary 1.”

The provincial minister said no other sector has shown more discipline than schools in implementing COVID-19 SOPs and told the parents that the government remained vigilant on this throughout the period when educational institutes were opened previously.

"I request parents to send their kids to schools. The corona SOPs will be followed more strictly than before and we are making the best arrangements for the safety of the children,” he added.

Cases on the rise

Shafqat Mehmood's remarks come as Pakistan battles a second wave of the coronavirus with cases constantly on the rise.

The country reported its biggest jump in coronavirus cases in nearly a month today.

Data issued by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) showed that 3,097 people tested positive for COVID-19 across the country on January 13, raising the national tally to 511,921.

The last time Pakistan's single-day tally crossed the 3,000 mark was on December 18 last year when NCOC reported 3,179 infections.