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‘Final decision on reopening schools to be taken on September 7’


ISLAMABAD:

Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said on Thursday that a final decision regarding reopening schools will be taken with consensus and input from all stakeholders on September 7.

The education minster was speaking at a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre in Islamabad wherein the NCOC suggested strategising the reopening by basing it on best practices and input from various experts.

Minister Mahmood informed the meeting that basic challenges in reopening educational institutions were to identify the indicators, and measures needed to be taken to ensure implementation of health guidelines, such as wearing face masks, practising social distancing and other hygiene measures.

The NCOC also asserted that educational institutions must ensure all Covid-19 protocols are implemented, and prepare for them accordingly, before a final decision is taken.

The forum further suggested that institutions be opened on a top-to-bottom approach, starting from universities to high schools on a rotational basis. Staggered timings for each institution were advised to be kept, whereas all kinds of activities, including co-curricular, which involved mass gatherings or less space be suspended.

The NCOC also apprised the participants of tracking, tracing and testing method that will help stop the spread of the virus.

Special Adviser to Prime Minister on National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination Dr Faisal Sultan suggested that enhancing tests of symptomatic children, teachers and school staff could prove very beneficial.

He added that an IT-based monitoring mechanism would be developed to ensure implementation of health guidelines and Covid containment measures.

Representatives from all provinces and regions, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) also apprised the NCOC about measures taken in their respective areas, including organising consultations, teacher training and Covid-19 awareness sessions.

Furthermore, representatives from various institutions gave their detailed input regarding reopening measures, and assured the forum about complying with health guidelines, particularly wearing face masks, practicing social distancing and washing hands regularly.

The NCOC and Ministry of Health (MoH) are to closely monitor the virus statistics on a daily basis, particularly to assess the likely impact of tourism and Muharram on the opening of educational institutions.



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