Monday September 20, 2021

Upsurge in coronavirus cases: Educational institutions closed in Punjab, ICT, KP till April 11

ISLAMABAD: The government has announced the closure of educational institutions in the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and other coronavirus hotspots in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa until April 11.

Addressing a media briefing, after a key meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said the health, education and other authorities reviewed the situation caused by coronavirus in the country and decided to keep educational institutions in the hotspot areas closed until April 11.

“Schools, colleges, universities, academies and seminaries will be closed in Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Gujrat, Multan, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Muzaffarabad, Peshawar and Islamabad," he said. The announcement came amid 8.62 per cent coronavirus positivity rate in the country.

The educational institutions were closed from March 15 for two weeks in seven cities of Punjab including Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Gujrat, Sialkot, Multan and Rawalpindi as well as in Peshawar and Islamabad over the rising COVID-19 cases.

However, in the latest development, the closure has been increased to nine cities of Punjab, where Sargodha and Sheikupura are added to seven cities. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in addition to Peshawar, nine cities including Mardan, Charsadda, Swabi, Kohat, Lower Dir, Malakand, Swat, Nowshera and Buner are added to the school closure list.

The minister said the government realised that closing schools would affect the learning of students but their and others' health was its top priority. "The decision on extended school closures has been taken due to the third wave of coronavirus," he said.

Shafqat Mahmood said the number of coronavirus cases in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir had increased, while the cases were relatively less in Sindh, Balochistan and Gilgit-Balochistan (GB). He said provincial governments could decide about keeping schools opened or closed in light of infection incidences.

The minister said board examinations won't be cancelled this year and examinations of classes 9, 10 and 11 would be held as per scheduled. “Last year, they (exams) were cancelled and students were promoted without appearing for their examinations. This won’t happen, this time around,” he said.

Shafqat Mahmood said the Cambridge exams were slated to begin on April 26, so Pakistani officials would hold a meeting with Cambridge's to see if the exams could be extended in the country.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government Wednesday announced the names of nine cities where schools will remain closed till April 11, 2021.

Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas announced that all public and private schools of Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot, Sargodha and Sheikhupura will remain closed till April 11. Schools in the remaining districts will be open on previous schedule.