Schools and colleges reopened on Monday in more districts of Punjab for matriculation and intermediate levels, while all classes will resume from June 7.
The schools and colleges reopened in whole Punjab except the Khanewal and Rahim Yar Khan districts, where rato of coronavirus positive test results is over eight per cent.
However, the attendance of students remained low on the first day and parents appeared to be apprehensive of the risk to the health of the children.
After resuming the classes for grades 10 and 12 on the instructions of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) in 34 of the 36 districts of the province, Punjab government is all set to resume academic activities in all schools, colleges and universities from June 7.
The provincial school and higher education departments issued a notification regarding the reopening of the educational institutions after a decision taken in an NCOC meeting held on May 29.
However, the Punjab Higher Education Department announced that the colleges in Khanewal and Rahim Yar khan would not be reopened because the districts still faced a substantial risk of the spread of coronavirus.
However, low attendance was recorded in the institutions that reopened, including Lahore big colleges.
The educational institutions deputed staff at the gates to ensure implementation of the standard operating procedures (SOP) devised to stop the pandemic from spreading.
The schools and colleges in 16 districts with coronavirus infection ratio below 5% had opened earlier.
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The academic activities in the remaining districts except two have resumed after a gap of 36 days.
The schools and colleges were opened with a restriction of 50% attendance and implementation of the SOPs, including a ban on entering the premises without face mask.
Punjab government has already decided that educational institutions in the province will resume all classes on June 7 and iand preparations are being made for the purpose.
The schoolteachers unions and private schools associations welcomed the reopening of the schools but also pointed out that students of matriculation and intermediate classes were protesting and said the government should address their concerns.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, the president of All Pakistan Private Schools Owners Association, Adeeb Jawadani, said the students could not prepare for the annual exams as a result of the suspension of academic activities in classrooms. He stressed the need to settle the issue.
He also called for permission for fulltime classes instead of the the restriction of 50% attendance resulting in half the classes being conducted face to face for each pupil. He said the students needed to attend maximum classes ahead of the exams.
Punjab Teachers Union secretary general Rana Liaqat Ali said, "There was low attendance in all districts on the first day but we are expecting that the attendance will improve soon."
He said the teaching community had always supported the NCOC and was doing its best to continue academic activities in schools.
"We are strictly following the SOPs and ensuring social distance during lectures in classrooms. However, we want fulltme classes in schools," he added.
On the other hand, parents still have their concerns over the opening of schools.
"We are doing our best regarding online education at home as coronavirus is still there and we are concerned about the safety of the children," said the mother of a schoolchild.
She said the vaccination of schoolchildren had not begun and the weather had already turned hot in the province.
"We are not happy with the decision of opening schools. The vaccination of teachers was started by the government but young children also had also contracted the virus during the third wave of the pandemic. It is beyond our understanding why schools are opening without vaccination of the kids," she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2021.