Punjab, Balochistan, and KP to Reopen Schools from Tomorrow

On Tuesday, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) gave permission to schools all over the country to reopen. The students being allowed to resume academic activities from tomorrow, the 23rd of September, are from grades six to eight.

Soon after the NCOC released a statement, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Punjab issued notifications to schools for the resumption of middle school classes. However, Saeed Ghani, the Sindh Education Minister, announced that schools in the province will be allowed to reopen on the 28th of September. 

A few days earlier, millions of students in the country resumed academic activities as various educational institutions reopened after a six-month-long break. 

In the first phase of the timetable set out by the relevant authorities, higher education institutions were granted permission to open their gates to students. These included vocational institutes, professional colleges, universities, and grades 9 to 12.

As per phase 2 of the timetable, grades six to eight would begin classes from the 23rd of September. Similarly, students from primary classes were to return to their schools on the 30th of September. 

But, following the execution of phase 1 of the timetable, various educational institutions were shut down. This was a direct result of flouting and violation of standard operating procedures (SOPs). Some students, staff, and teachers ended up testing positive for coronavirus. 

Thus, the Sindh government declared that schools will not reopen as per the schedule. They incorporated a week-long delay in the implementation of phase 2. Saeed Ghani informed the public that he was forced to take this decision when he observed non-compliance with coronavirus health guidelines.

Shafqat Mehmood, the Federal education minister, had refuted the decision made by the Sindh government. He had gone on to say that the situation will be further evaluated by relevant authorities and health professionals.

In a meeting held earlier today, the NCOC gave the green light to move ahead with Phase 2 of the reopening of middle schools as per the original schedule. 

“Situation is improving”

While addressing the media in the capital city of the country just today, Shafqat Mehmood reported that the health situation was being carefully monitored by the government. He said that authorities were paying special attention to the numbers ever since the reopening of schools. 

The Federal education minister also added that he, along with other provincial ministers, had visited several schools all over Pakistan. In their inspection, they had ensured that standard operating procedures (SOPs) were being strictly followed. 

Moreover, Shafqat Mehmood was adamant that the sudden surge in cases was not due to the reopening of schools. Rather, it was only a result of students being irresponsible and not abiding by the health guidelines outlined. 

According to him, the government had thoroughly reviewed the situation and thought it would be best to resume middle schools in KP, Balochistan, Punjab and, Azad Jammu and Kashmir. However, secondary classes in Gilgit Baltistan and Rawalkot district will not be permitted to reopen.