ISLAMABAD: On Monday, the Inter-Provincial Conference of Ministers of Education (IPEMC) agreed to schools close all educational institutions from 26 November to 24 December and to conduct online classes throughout the time in which the number of Covid-19 cases continues to increase in the region.
The conference, chaired by the Federal Minister of Education, Shafqat Mahmood, agreed that schools would stay open throughout the closing time, but students would remain at home.
However the forum allowed schools to call students during the week for one or two days, but said the final regulation would be at the discretion of provincial education departments in this regard. It was also announced that it would be from December 25 to January 10 for the winter break.
Speaking to the media after the conference, the Minister of Education announced the development and expressed hope that on January 11, 2021, educational institutions will be able to reopen. He added, however that a further meeting will take place before the reopening date in order to make a definitive statement on the matter.
Shafqat continued that the December exams are set to be delayed until mid-January. The education minister said, “PhD students and those that require the use of laboratories can enter premises of educational institutes,”
When we say all educational institutions will close on Nov 26 and students will home learn, we mean ALL institutions without exception
— Shafqat Mahmood (@Shafqat_Mahmood) November 23, 2020
Dr. Faisal Sultan, the national health services advisor to the premier, said entry examinations such as the Medical and Dental College Admission Tests (MDCAT) would be performed with strict implementation of Covid-19 SOPs per schedule.
The IPEMC was convened last week to discuss the country’s Covid-19 condition, but was unable to find a decision on the closing of schools and postponed the matter until the next conference.
Online schooling is recommended by the federal government: teachers can come to classrooms and keep in touch with students who will be at home.
The Ministry of Education has previously submitted recommendations to the provinces surrounding the closing of educational institutions. The first proposal proposed that primary schools be closed from 24 November to 3 January, while the second proposal suggested that primary schools be closed from November and the third proposal recommended that middle schools be closed from 2 December.
The recommendations have proposed that pupils from higher secondary schools should be barred from entering schools as of 15 December, while only teachers and administrative staff should be called in.
Preparations and applications for an online education network were also proposed, which included platforms such as tele-school and tele-radio made locally.