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January 5, 2021

In-person learning to resume on 18th

Top Story

January 5, 2021

ISLAMABAD: As the second wave of coronavirus shows signs of abatement, the government Monday announced the phased resumption of in-person learning in around 300,000 educational institutions countrywide after two weeks.

“The students of grades 9-12, who have board exams coming up later in the year, will resume in-person education on January 18, while those in nursery to grade 8 will return to school on January 25. Universities and colleges across the country will reopen on February 1 maintaining less than 50 per cent attendance,” Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood told reporters here after chairing a meeting of provincial and regional educational ministers over the video link. The minister said the in-person learning decision would also apply to over 30,000 seminaries. He said education ministers would review the decision in a meeting on January 14 or 15 after checking if the downward trend of coronavirus cases continued satisfactorily.

Shafqat Mehmood said the meeting would also determine if more precautionary measures were required against the virus.

After the outbreak of coronavirus in March 2020, all educational institutions were closed in the country for in-person classes. They reopened on September 15 but were closed again on November 26, 2020, due to the virus resurgence.

They’re currently closed for winter vacation until January 10. According to Shafqat, schools and colleges can resume online learning and call administrative staff and teachers to in-person duty after the end of the winter break.

He also said board exams scheduled for March and early April had been postpone until May or June to enable students to overcome learning losses suffered during campus closures in the first wave of coronavirus.

Earlier, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan, who also accompanied the education minister, said while all government measures had helped stem the spread of COVID-19 during the second wave, the largest visible impact came from the closure of schools and colleges.

“When we examined the second wave data, the closure of schools had the greatest impact on slowing down the spread of the virus and giving us time to cope with it,” he said.

The premier’s aide, however, said the second COVID-19 wave was still there.

“We must continue to take care for some more time [to ensure our healthcare infrastructure] doesn’t get overwhelmed,” he said.

Dr Faisal Sultan also said the government needed more clarity on the progress of the second wave to take final decisions about anti-virus administrative measures.