All government and private schools and colleges in 13 districts of Punjab were opened for class nine to 12 students on Monday amid restrictions of 50% attendance.
These educational institutes have reopened after a break of 36 days.
In its latest decision, the Punjab government allowed schools to remain open twice a week, on Monday and Friday, with only half of the students in 13 districts of the province.
The districts bound by the decision have been identified as Lahore, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Multan, Faisalabad, Sheikhupura, Sialkot, Sargodha, Toba Tek Singh, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan and Dera Ghazi Khan.
In a tweet, Punjab Education Minister Dr Murad Raas has directed the remaining districts to follow the regular schedule.
On March 13, all schools and colleges in the worst coronavirus hit districts were closed by the Punjab government for two weeks. Later on March 23, the National Command Operation Centre (NCOC) reviewed the decision and extended the closure further to avoid increase in number of virus cases.
Private school associations and owners had vehemently opposed the decision of the authorities to close the schools in the light of upcoming examinations. They had even staged a protest in front of the Parliament House and demanded that the government reverse the decision.
However, the government decided to stay put with the announced policy and refrained from allowing students to attend school. Officials also restricted staff strength to half in all educational institutions including universities.
“Today more than 50 per cent attendance was observed in most of the schools and in some schools the attendance was around 70 per cent,” Punjab Teachers Union Secretary General Rana Liaqat Ali revealed while talking to The Express Tribune.
He said the students took part in academic activities in their usual style and teachers delivered lectures while observing SOPs.
“The entire process was under strict monitoring by the school administrations,” he added.
Meanwhile, Kashif Adeeb Jawdani, the president of All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association, said, “Two days with 50% students are not enough to continue academic process properly, therefore we request the government to allow us to open schools for five or six days in a week.”
In the wake of the latest decision, official sources said that classes 1-8 in schools and in universities will remain suspended till Eidul Fitr.
Punjab Minister for Education Murad Raas has also said that the provincial government has planned to prioritise vaccination of teachers and other educational staff against Covid-19 to protect them from the virus and ultimately keep the schools open.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2021.
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