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Punjab’s coronavirus situation monitored daily for safety of students: Murad Raas

The coronavirus situation across Punjab is monitored daily for the safety of students, teachers and their families, the province’s Minister for Education Murad Raas said on Friday.

His statement comes as a meeting of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) was held which was attended by health and education ministers. It was decided that schools must reopen on January 18, as was originally planned.

Raas announced the schedule for the reopening of schools in Punjab. He said classes 9, 10, 11 and 12 will open on January 18, whereas primary, middle school and university students will rejoin classes on February 1.

Earlier this month, the federal government announced a phase-wise plan to reopen educational institutes from January 18 which were closed on November 26 to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Shafqat Mehmood announces NCOC’s decisions

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood addressed a press conference after the NCOC meeting and announced what was decided between the ministers.

Here’s what was decided:

  • Classes will start for students of grades nine to 12 students from January 18 as decided earlier. Exams are due for these students.
  • Federal and provincial governments have decided that students will not be passed without exams this year like they were last year.
  • One-week extension granted for start of classes for students of grades 1-8. They were earlier supposed to start by January 25.
  • Primary schools will reopen from February 1.
  • Higher education institutes still to reopen by February 1 as decided earlier.

NCOC will re-evaluate data in a week and decide whether the decision to reopen primary schools and higher education institutes on February 1 in cities where infections rates are high is appropriate or not as infection rates differ between cities, said the minister

Shafqat Mehmood said that the latest statistics show that the positivity ratio has gone down to 6.10%, but it is still high. Also, the rate of critical patients is still as high as it was in November and so is the infection rate.

“One thing is clear: all those associated with education, in politics or the government realise that learning levels of children has been severely affected because of the closure of schools,” Mehmood said.

However, health is important too, the education minister said, emphasising that the need of the hour is to keep a balance between continuing education and minimising the risk to students.

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