ISLAMABAD: The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Tuesday allowed reopening of schools (from class six to eight) across the country from Wednesday (today) after a six-month closure as the Covid-19 situation in the country has improved to some extent.
However, the Sindh government — which has already decided to postpone reopening of schools (from class six to eight) till Sept 28 — is not going to open schools on Wednesday in accordance with the NCOC decision.
The NCOC took the decision during a meeting held here with Planning Minister Asad Umar in the chair. It was attended by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood and provincial education ministers, except Sindh’s education minister. However, Sindh’s education secretary was present in the meeting.
Sources said that the NCOC was informed by health officials during a meeting that 93,928 Covid-19 tests were conducted in those educational institutions across the country which were allowed to open on Sept 15. In these tests, 606 positive cases were found while results of 27.6 per cent tests were still awaited.
NCOC meeting sees improvement in Covid-19 situation
Health officials said that overall only 0.9pc positive cases were reported in educational institutions, showing that the Covid-19 situation was under control in the country. Therefore, they recommended opening of schools from Wednesday under the second phase.
The sources said that the meeting was informed that high positive cases were reported in Balochistan’s pubic educational institutions. In total 2,410 tests conducted in the province, 285 cases were found with an alarming 11.85pc. Despite this Balochistan is all set to reopen its institutions under the second phase.
The situation in Sindh — which has already decided to delay reopening of schools until Sept 28 — is far better than Balochistan.
The sources said the NCOC was informed that among 21,496 tests conducted in Sindh’s public sector institutions 96 positive cases were found while results of 8,800 tests were still awaited. Whereas, out of 9,495 tests conducted in the province’s private institutions, 54 positive cases were reported while results of 3,356 tests were awaited.
They said the health officials informed the NCOC that out of 32,332 tests conducted in the Punjab’s public sector institutions there were only 35 positive cases while results of 2,812 tests were awaited. Out of 3,715 people tested for coronavirus in the province’s private institutions only 19 positive cases were reported while 231 results are awaited.
According to the sources, 31 positive cases of coronavirus were found in 7,000 tests conducted in institutions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The NCOC has, however, decided not to open educational institutions in Rawlakot district of Azad Kashmir due to increase in Covid-19 cases in the area.
After getting the briefing from the health officials, the NCOC decided to open schools across the country.
After the NCOC’s meeting, federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Dr Faisal Sultan told the media that there was no surge in cases of Covid-19 after reopening of educational institutions last week. They called for proper implementation of health guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures in educational institutions.
Speaking to Dawn later, the federal education minister said that overall only 0.9pc positive cases of coronavirus were reported from across the country. This figure was under control, therefore, the NCOC decided to reopen educational institutions from Wednesday, he added.
Mr Mahmood said before opening of primary schools on Sept 30, another meeting would be held to review the situation. In reply to a question, he said the Sindh government before announcing the delay in reopening of schools should have consulted with the federal government at the NCOC forum.
Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2020