Hours after the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) announced that winter vacations in educational institutions would commence from Jan 3, 2022, the provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa notified the dates for the winter break.

Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas said all public and private schools in the province would be closed from Dec 23 to Jan 6, 2022. "Please get vaccinated and follow the SOPs issued by the government," the minister advised.

KP Education Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai shared the notification on Twitter which is applicable for all public and private institutions across the province.

According to the document, the winter break in the province's plain areas will be from Jan 3, 2022 to Jan 12, 2022. In KP's hilly/snowy areas, the winter break will be from Dec 24 to Feb 28, 2022.

Sindh and Balochistan had already announced their schedule for the winter break.

Sindh had announced that winter vacations will be observed in the province from Dec 20 to Jan 1, 2022. All public and private schools will reopen from Jan 3, 2022.

The Balochistan government had notified the winter break on Dec 2. According to a notification issued by the Secondary Education Department, winter vacations for winter zones will be from Dec 15 to Feb 28, 2022. For summer zones it will be Dec 22 to Dec 31.

Winter vacations to begin from Jan 3: NCOC

Earlier today, the NCOC announced that winter vacations in educational institutions will commence from Jan 3, 2022, except in areas affected by extreme weather conditions or smog.

The forum announced the decision after a meeting chaired by Planning and Development Minister Asad Umar along with relevant stakeholders. Federal Minister Education Shafqat Mehmood and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan also attended the meeting.

According to the NCOC, provincial entities will notify the winter break schedule accordingly.

Earlier, the NCOC and the federal education ministry appeared to differ regarding the start of winter vacations, as the former at its meeting on Wednesday recommended that vacations start in the middle of January, a day after the federal education minister announced holidays would commence on Dec 25.

“Federal and provincial secretaries met today [Tuesday]. The agreed proposal was that winter holidays should be from Dec 25 to Jan 4. Further notifications will be made by the governments concerned,” Shafqat Mahmood had tweeted on Tuesday.

However, in its latest announcement, the NCOC said the decision to start holidays on Jan 3 had been taken to maximise vaccine uptake amongst students in educational institutions, which could be best achieved when schools were open.

It expressed caution that millions of students remained unvaccinated, while data suggested that children might be susceptible to Covid-19 infection.

"Parents are urged to get their children vaccinated at the earliest to protect them and those around them."

The NCOC said it was prudent to schedule winter vacations in Pakistan in January to coincide with a potential uptick of cases." This will allow for minimal disruption of educational calendars if there is a surge in cases."

The forum urged all citizens to complete their Covid-19 vaccination with a second dose. "Complete vaccination offers the highest protection against the disease," it stressed.

Meanwhile, students have been running a campaign on social media demanding early vacations. The federal education minister was once again the subject of a barrage of memes on social media, with students requesting him for early winter holidays.

Additional input from Ghalib Nihad and Sirajuddin


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