An employee checks the temperature of a student outside a school in Karachi. File
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
The federal government on Monday announced reopening of educational institutions across Pakistan in phases, starting from Jan.18.
The announcement was made by Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood following the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference.
Mahmood said students of class 9 to 12 would resume studies from Jan.18, whereas the primary section up to class 8 would reopen from Jan.25. Colleges and universities are to reopen from Feb.1.
The minister said that board examinations would be held in May and June. He stated that the COVID-19 situation would again be reviewed by Jan.14 or 15.
Officials from the health ministry also briefed the forum on the latest situation concerning the coronavirus pandemic.
The proposal to hold board exams in the last week of May and early June and reducing the number of winter vacations was also discussed.
The minister said that teachers and administrative staff would be allowed to come back to schools from Jan.11 after the winter vacations were over. Online learning can also be resumed from Jan.11, he said.
Elaborating on the decisions taken during the meeting, Mahmood said that board exams which were due to be held in March and April were postponed to May and June because the children have not completed their coursework and we want to give them time to prepare.
He added that the government would review the health situation again on Jan.14 or 15 to see if the trajectory is under control.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan cautioned that more precautions were needed to control the spread of COVID-19. “When we looked at data and analysed it, it became clear that we need to take some more precautions and delay reopening so that the second wave can be reduced before we reopen.”
He said that data showed that closing the educational institutions earlier had led to a delay in the spread of the virus.
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To provide parents, students and staff members in private schools in Dubai with an effective and convenient mechanism to address COVID-19 related queries, the Dubai Health Authority has launched a dedicated 24/7 back-to-school helpline at phone number 800588.
The launch of this service reinforces the authority’s commitment to provide effective communication channels to the community, offering timely and accurate health information.
A return-to-school protocol would be developed in co-operation with the Ministry of Education (MoE), the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NECDMA) and local authorities and would be announced later on.
According to the Health Ministry, all students at various stages are required to obtain a negative test result of no more than 96 hours when they start studying in educational facilities, at the beginning of the new year and semester.
Power and Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said in a message on Twitter that petrol prices would increase by 20%-24% while diesel prices would rise by 35%-38% with immediate effect.
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DoH has been in direct coordination with Abu Dhabi Police and Abu Dhabi Civil Defense Authority, and confirms that all injured cases that have resulted from the gas cylinder explosion incident in a restaurant at Al Khalidiya area in Abu Dhabi.