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NCOC recommends ‘early, extended’ closure of schools for winter vacations

Meeting of provincial education ministers will assess and review the positivity ratio prevailing in educational institutions. Photo: File

The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Wednesday recommended “early and extended winter vacations” for schools  due to increasing positivity rate in educational institutes across Pakistan.

The body decided that Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood will chair a special session with provincial education ministers on November 16 where the recommendation will be put forward. It also said that the meeting of the ministers will also “assess and review the positivity ratio prevailing in educational institutions”.

The NCOC decided to put forward the recommendation after Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar chaired a session of the body which reviewed the “epidemic curve data and disease prevalence in country including education sector”.

According to a statement, the NCOC was informed about the “increasing positivity ratio in educational institutions” and the need to stop the trend. The body also shared that it will share with the provinces its recommendations, after “consultative discussions”, for “consequent decision and enforcement”.

“The forum, taking into account rising positivity ratio, suggested for an early and extended winter vacations to reduce impact of disease spread and ensure safety and health of students,” said the NCOC statement.

Education ministers decide to keep schools open

In a meeting last week, Pakistan had decided to keep the schools open in the country.

The meeting was presided by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood and was attended by his provincial counterparts as well.

The decision was made unanimously by all provincial education ministers after health ministry officials briefed the participants of the online meeting on Pakistan’s coronavirus situation.

The meeting had also ruled that there would be no winter holidays in Punjab, while a decision on whether there would minimal number of winter holidays or none at all would depend on geography of the respective provinces.

The meeting’s participants had agreed at the time that in the current situation, there was no need to close educational institutes. However, coronavirus has been spreading rapidly since, with the number of new cases rising sharply.

KP mulls early winter vacation

It was also reported last week that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government is considering announcing early winter vacations in schools.

The option was discussed at a meeting of the provincial task force on COVID-19, which was chaired by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan.

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