Millions of students across the country are set to burn the midnight oil again, as the government gave the go-ahead for conducting Matric and Intermediate annual examinations from 23 of June amid strict observance of coronavirus-induced standard operating procedures (SOPs).
The decision is part of a raft of measures taken by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC), the unified government strategy against the pandemic spread, in its meeting on Saturday, according to a press release issued here.
The NCOC allowed the provinces to resume Xth and XIIth classes from next week. Simultaneously, the NCOC made Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for educational staff in order to ensure the safe continuation of the education sector.
The exams are being held after a gap of two years, because in 2020, the pandemic situation did not permit the authorities to open educational institutions for about six months, as the country grappled with the first wave of Covid-19.
This time, however, an inter-provincial meeting of educations ministers decided students would not be promoted to next classes without examinations. Last week, the NCOC allowed a staggered reopening of educational institutions from June 7 in districts with less than 5% positivity ratio and that the Matric and Intermediate exams would be held after June 20.
On Thursday the government issued no-objection certificate (NOC) to the British Council to hold O-Level exams from July 26 to August 5 under strict observance of coronavirus SOPs. The notification said the British Council might hold a series of special examinations from July 26 to August 6.
The NCOC meeting, co-chaired by Planning Minister Asad Umar and NCOC National Coordinator Lt-Gen Hamooduz Zaman, decided that the examinations for matriculation students (Class-X) and Intermediate (Class-XII) will be held between June 23 to July 29.
The forum also decided that the provinces could choose the date for resumption of on-campus Matric and Intermediate classes under the coronavirus SOPs from May 31 in order to prepare the students for their exams.
The meeting also decided that amusement parks, water parks and swimming pools will reopen in districts with 5% or less positive cases from Sunday (today). The forum also decided that passengers from the UAE would be required to obtain a negative PCR test results from authorised laboratories.
“The decision is being taken to ensure that no passenger could enter the country as a result of a fake test,” NCOC said in a statement issued after the meeting. The forum warned that the airlines would be fined for violating the directive.
The meeting expressed satisfaction with the overall Covid-19 situation but warned that the pandemic could aggravate in Sindh. The Sindh government said on Saturday that the positivity ration in the province was 7.3%.
As part of preparations for examination process, the Elementary and Secondary Education (E&SE) department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa directed employees of all academic departments to receive anti-Covid-19 jabs from May 29 to June 5.
It said that all teachers and other employees in the academic organisations, aged 18 and above, could walk in with computerised national identity cards and job certificates for the vaccine. “No teacher and staff would be allowed to enter schools without vaccination certificate after June 5.”
Similarly, Punjab Minister for School Education Murad Raas had said that the government would try to vaccinate all teachers of Punjab before June 7. He pointed out that Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid has set up a vaccination centre for the teachers.
The country is in the grip of a third wave of Covid-19 pandemic, which after seeing its peak last month, now showing signs of abatement, as the number of active cases continued to decline, which the single-day tally of new cases hovered around 3,000.
On Saturday, according to the NCOC daily update of the disease, 2,455 new cases were detected in the last 24 hours, while 2,136 people recovered from the disease during that period. It added that at present 4,083 infected patients were under treatment in critical care in various Covid dedicated healthcare facilities, including 490 on ventilators.
The NCOC bulletin also said that 73, patients died during the past 24 hours, taking the nationwide death toll to 20,680. As of Saturday, the countrywide caseload of the pandemic since it broke out in February last year, stood at 916,239, out of whom 836,702 people have fully recovered. Since February 2020, 13,113,39coronavirus tests had been conducted so far.
(WITH INPUT FROM NEWS DESK)