Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced on Monday that schools and educational institutions will reopen across the country in three phases.
“On January 18, classes for grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 — those that have exams — will resume,” he said during a news conference. “This means that students of grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 will go to their schools and colleges from January 18 and their studies will resume.”
He said that in the second phase of the reopening of schools, students of primary classes till grade 8 will start going to schools from January 25. “This means that primary schools, for primary classes till grade 8 will reopen from January 25,” he added.
The minister said that universities and other higher educational institutions will reopen from February 1 in the third and last phase.
Mahmood said the administration staff and teachers of educational institutions can resume their duties at schools, colleges and universities from January 11. “Online and home-based learning, can also be held from January 11,” he said.
The minister announced that board exams have been postponed till May and June as students did not have enough time to prepare for their exams.
Mahmood said that another meeting will be held on January 14-15 by the education ministers to review the health situation in the country. He reiterated that the decisions had been taken after consulting all provinces.
Prior to Mahmood’s press conference, Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas tweeted that classes from grades 9-12 will resume in the province from January 18 while those from ECE to 8th grade will resume from January 25.
“Universities to open on February 1st, 2021. All institutions will have 50% students on alternate days as before,” he tweeted.
The federal government, on the recommendation of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), had closed all the educational institutions including madrassahs from November 26, 2020 to January 10, 2021.
Under that plan, schools were to reopen on January 11. But the rising spread of the novel coronavirus across the country has cast a shadow on that decision with federal and provincial education ministers saying that it was “unlikely” educational institutions would be allowed to reopen.
Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood chaired the meeting while all the provincial ministers attended the conference via video link. The final decision regarding the reopening of schools was taken after advice from the health ministry on the matter.