Physical classes at schools across Pakistan for grades one to eight have been suspended till April 28, the National Command and Operation Centre announced Tuesday.
"Classes for grades 9, 10, and 11 will resume from April 19," Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said while briefing the media about the meeting. All students will have to follow SOPs.
For primary classes, the decision will be taken by the provincial government considering the coronavirus situation. In affected districts, universities will move classes online as well.
Lahore schools to remain closed till Eid
Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas has said that all public and private schools for classes one to eight in the following cities will remain closed till Eid.
- Tobe Tek Singh
- Rahim Yar Khan
- Dera Ghazi Khan
The decision will be reviewed in two weeks, he said in a tweet.
Classes 9 to 12 will resume starting April 19. The students will be called to schools from Monday to Thursday, the education minister said.
ANNOUNCEMENT No. 3— Murad Raas (@DrMuradPTI) April 6, 2021
All Examinations for Classes 9 through 12 and O/A Levels will be conducted as per schedule in Punjab.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa exams to start on May 24
KP Minister for Elementary and Secondary Education Shahram Khan Tarakai has said that classes one to eight in "affected districts" will remain closed till Eid.
At the NCOC we decided to continue education process with staggering for the classes 9-12 to prepare for examination - Schools will reopen from April 18. 1-8 classes in #COVID19 effected districts remain closed till Eid. NCOC will again meet on April 28th to assess the situation. pic.twitter.com/Gi4C4TTzaM— Shahram Khan Tarakai (@ShahramKTarakai) April 6, 2021
Schools for classes 9 to 12 will reopen on April 18. Exams for classes 9 to 10 will be conducted from May 24 onwards, while those of classes 11 to 12 from June 17.
He remarked that they emphasised "prioritising coronavirus vaccination for the teachers and teaching staff". Education disruption has resulted in learning losses, he added.
Exams aren't being cancelled: Mahmood
"Exams for classes 9, 10, and 11 will begin in the third week of May," the minister said, adding that their dates may be extended.
"We have requested universities to extend admissions as well so that students can easily apply for admissions in case exams get delayed further."
Talking about the Cambridge exams, Mahmood said that over 40,000 students across Pakistan will sit for their O/A Level exams this year. "These exams will be held as per schedule with strict SOP implementation."
People who are saying that Cambridge exams have been cancelled in other regions are incorrect, he clarified.
Mahmood said that the government will review the decision on April 28 after overlooking the coronavirus situation.
The NCOC met on April 6 to discuss the fate of schools. The meeting was attended by all education and health ministers.
In the last NCOC meeting on March 24, the education ministry closed educational institutions in virus hotspots in Islamabad, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa till April 11.
Earlier this week, Sindh suspended physical classes for grades nursery to eight. The classes will be taken online for two weeks starting April 6.
Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said that the decision was taken after the coronavirus positivity rate climbed to 5.39.
Private schools stage protest
On Tuesday, teachers and owners of private schools across the country staged at Islamabad's D-Chowk a protest against the government's decision to close schools.
The protesters said that it’s unfair to close schools when everything else in the country is functioning as per routine. “Closing schools will result in educational losses for students and financial losses for schools and teachers,” a protester said.
The demonstrators added that their sit-ins will only end once the government agrees to their demands. “Resume classes at educational institutions by April 11.”
Pakistan schools and coronavirus
All educational institutions across the country were closed in late February 2020 after coronavirus cases began to rise. They were reopened in phases starting September 15, 2020.
On November 23, 2020, after the second wave of coronavirus cases hit the country, the government announced that all educational institutions would close again from November 26, 2020.
Classes were taken online till December 24, 2020, and winter vacations started from December 25, 2020, and were supposed to last till January 10. The government said it would hold a meeting to review the decision to reopen schools on January 4.
The NCOC then decided that schools would reopen in phases with classes nine to 12 being the first to reopen on January 18.
On March 10, the government closed schools in Punjab, Islamabad and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for two weeks in light of the third wave of the coronavirus.