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September 30, 2020

Primary schools open today as COVID positivity less than 1%


September 30, 2020

Islamabad : In the last phase of the reopening of educational institutions, the primary schools will resume in-person learning across the country today (Wednesday) after remaining closed for around six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Command and Operation Centre, the body empowered to take key decisions on COVID-19 related issues, unanimously decided on Tuesday that primary students would return to school under strict restrictions to prevent the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus, federal education minister Shafqat Mahmood told reporters here.

He said the schoolchildren, teachers and other staff members would practice social distancing, wear face masks and use hand sanitisers on campus.

The government had closed all educational institutions in March as part of measures to contain the spread of coronavirus.

However, the university, college and high school students were allowed to return to classrooms in phases earlier this month as the coronavirus deaths and incidence in the country declined sharply.

The education minister said 171,436 coronavirus tests had been carried out in educational institutions since they reopened on September 15 and of them, only 1,248 (less than one per cent) turned out to be positive.

“Keeping in view this data, the centre has decided about the resumption of primary level classes after consulting all provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan,” he said.

He said students of primary classes were young, so the responsibility of teachers and parents increased regarding virus prevention.

“Schools should ensure two things: lower density of students in one place and use of face masks [by them on campus],” he said.

The minister said coronavirus testing in schools would be increased with time and that the government and people would fight off the virus together.

He warned that action would be taken against educational institutions that violated the standard operating procedures notified by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Parents expressed mixed feelings about the schools reopening for in-person instruction.

Some said they’re worried about sending their children to school as first a medical college and later a university and a college were sealed over the detection of virus among staff members and students.

They advocated online learning of primary students at home to keep them from ‘harm’s way’ during pandemic.

However, others cautiously favoured the resumption of in-person learning saying if schools enforce preventative measures against coronavirus, then the move will help students cover learning loss they suffered due to the pandemic-induced campus closures.