–Institutions to remain closed from November 26 to December 24; winter break from December 25 to January 10
–Entrance, recruitment examinations, including MDCAT, to take place as per schedule
–IPEMC meeting in January to chalk out future course of action
ISLAMABAD: As the fresh coronavirus cases continue to surge across the country, the government on Monday decided to close down again all educational institutions from November 26 (Thursday).
Announcing the decision after a meeting of the Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC), Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said that the institutes will open on December 24 while the winter break will occur from December 25 till January 10, 2021.
“Studies will continue from home,” Shafqat told a press conference following the meeting. “No in-person classes will be conducted during this time,” he said. However, he added, teachers would be required to continue attending schools in line with their administration’s policies.
In areas where online facilities did not exist, children will be assigned homework, the minister said.
Covid-19 infections in Pakistan have been on a rise for a month now. The country recorded its highest positivity ratio at 7.46 per cent on Monday. Commenting on the trend, the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) said that 19 per cent of the cases were from the educational sector.
“On average 35 people lost lives during last week, 19 per cent of cases are from the education sector. Positivity ratio in educational institutions increase from 1.8 per cent to 3.3 per cent during last one week, which is actually 82 per cent increase,” an NCOC statement read.
Mahmood said that if the situation visibly improved, all educational institutions would reopen from January 11, adding this would be determined during a meeting of the IPEMC in the first week of January.
He said that all exams were being postponed in light of this decision. Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan clarified that this would not apply to entrance examinations such as already-delayed MDCAT, saying that the government felt these could be safely managed with the use of face masks.
Mahmood said that vocational education would not be halted, as such activities were occurring in factories and practical settings. He said that a third of all university hostel students could continue to live in school accommodations so long as they did not have access to the internet at their homes.
The education minister said that current plans called on reducing summer vacations, and commencing the next school year from August — not the currently scheduled April — to enable students to complete their course work.
He said that the educational ministers were also proposing delaying board exams till May or June.