Ministers to take final decision on winter vacations today

Published November 23, 2020
In this September 15 photo,  worker disinfects shoes of a student upon her arrival at a school in Lahore.  — AP
In this September 15 photo, worker disinfects shoes of a student upon her arrival at a school in Lahore. — AP

ISLAMABAD: The country’s education ministers are meeting today (Monday) to take a final decision on extended winter vacation as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise.

The virtual meeting will be chaired by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood.

Sources in the education ministry said decision would be made after reviewing the situation, adding that the federal ministry would plead for announcing extended winter vacation from Nov 24 to Jan 31.

The ministry also suggests teaching students online during the holidays and through Tele-School, e-Taleem and Radio School.

The officials said the meeting would also take up a second option whereby limited number of students would attend schools, adding that under this plan, primary grade students would stop attending school from Nov 24.

Positivity ratio in educational institutions stands at almost 2pc

This step will help cut down a load of 28 million students on institutions.

From Dec 2, middle grade students would also stop attending schools on the basis of the infection rate at that time.

This step will further reduce movement of another six million students.

Finally, from Dec 15, higher and higher secondary school students would also stop attending schools.

The situation under scenario two will be regularly reviewed, the officials said, adding that the National Command and Operation Centre has already urged the education ministers to close schools from Nov 20 to Jan 31.

“Before making any final decision, both proposals will be discussed in detail,” an official said.

Positivity ratio in educational institution through random testing is almost 2pc which is alarming as the students could become a source of spread of the virus in their families.

The meeting will also discuss the ministry’s proposal of extending the academic session till May 31, 2021.

The ministry has suggested fixing the exam date for grade 1-8 from June 1 to 10th and that of Secondary School Certificate and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSSC) in July.

It further proposed to start the new academic session from Sept 2021 instead of April.

Educational institutions had faced a six-month closure from March to September due to Covid-19 and now in the pandemic’s second spell, the ministry officials said the closure had become imminent due to the rising numbers of cases.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2020


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