ISLAMABAD: Under the final phase of reopening of educational institutions, primary schools across the country will reopen on Wednesday (today) as positive cases of Covid-19 have been recorded at a rate of less than one per cent in high schools and universities.
The announcement was made by federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan after a review meeting held at the National Command and Operation Centre here on Tuesday.
Earlier, on Sept 15, after a gap of six months, educational institutions from class 9 to university level had been reopened in the first phase, followed by class six to eight on Sept 23 in the second phase.
Mr Mahmood said the review meeting attended by representatives of the provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan had unanimously decided to reopen primary schools across the country from Wednesday.
He said the decision was taken on the basis of statistics as after the opening of educational institutions on Sept 15 in the first phase, 171,436 tests had been conducted in the institutions across the country. Of them only 1,284 positive (0.8pc) cases were reported among teachers, students and staffers.
The minister said that in view of the less number of positive cases in educational institutions, the meeting decided to reopen primary schools from Wednesday.
He assured the parents that strict monitoring of schools would be carried out and there would be no compromise on implementation of health guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to prevent the spread of coronavirus. He said action would be taken against those schools which failed to follow the SOPs and health guidelines.
Mr Mahmood said those schools which did not observe the government SOPs had been closed down and now special focus would be to get the SOPs implemented in primary schools in letter and spirit as children needed more care of teachers, school administrators and parents.
He appreciated the efforts made by teachers, students and parents so far in implementation of the SOPs in educational institutions that resulted in less number of positive Covid-19 cases and helped in making the decision to reopen primary schools.
Dr Faisal Sultan said primary schools across the country had more than 30 million students. He said that since these children could not follow the SOPs on their own, it was a responsibility of the school administration to ensure that students follow health guidelines and wear mask.
The SAPM advised the parents not to send their children to schools if they noticed that their kids were suffering from fever and flue. In case such a student joins school, it is incumbent upon the management to contact the parent to send him/her back home, he added.
He said the spread of Covid-19 could be controlled with the collective efforts of parents, teachers and school administrators.
Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2020