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Six Months Later

by Newsweek Pakistan

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Educational institutions reopen across Pakistan with senior classes and colleges commencing classes in initial phase

Educational institutions across Pakistan reopened on Tuesday after six months of closure due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with authorities urging strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines to prevent a second wave of the virus.

All schools, colleges and universities in the country were shut down in March to curb the spread of COVID-19. As cases have declined, calls have mounted for educational institutions to reopen to overcome the educational lapse resulting from the closure. Private schools, especially those with low fees, have been especially vocal, saying they would be forced to dismiss staff if their institutions did not reopen.

On Sept. 7, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced that all institutions would be allowed to reopen in three phases. In the first phase, commencing from Sept. 15, all higher education institutions and students of grades 9 through 12 have been allowed to resume in-person classes. “If all goes well, then students of grades 6 to 8 will return to school on Sept. 23, while students in nursery to grade 5 would return to school on Sept. 30,” he added. The phased reopening also applies to madrassas.

Safety guidelines

Under the safety protocols issued by the government for all public and private schools, masks have been made mandatory for teachers and students. Additionally, hand sanitizers would be provided at the entrance and social distancing would be ensured with students instructed to avoid any physical contact with their classmates.

The National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) on Monday urged parents to play their part in ensuring SOPs were stringently ensures, adding that the threat from the coronavirus is not yet over. It also urged parents against sending their children to schools if they show any signs of illness, adding that randomized testing would also be conducted.

Wedding halls

In addition to educational institutions, marriage halls have been allowed to resume operations in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Punjab from Sept. 15. Under guidelines issued by the provincial governments, the wedding halls are required to ensure the use of face masks and social distancing to prevent the virus from spreading in large groups.

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