ISLAMABAD – Educational institutions reopened in a phased manner from Tuesday in Pakistan, after six months of closure as a part of measures to check the spread of the highly infectious coronavirus.
Classes resumed for students in grades 9 and 10 on Tuesday, along with several classes in colleges and universities, Pakistan’s Education Ministry spokesperson Muhammad Ali told EFE.
He said classes in grades 6-8 will restart from Sept. 23, and primary schools will reopen on Sept. 30.
“Educational institutions reopened today across the country, but they have to make sure to comply with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs),” Ali said.
According to the ministry spokesperson, the guidelines include wearing masks at all times and reducing the maximum number of students inside a classroom to 25 depending on their size.
“The school administration will make sure students’ sitting space is enhanced to six feet and they wash their hands repeatedly during the class time,” Ali said.
Protective measures implemented in several schools include setting up a thermal walkthrough at entrance gates and ensuring that all students use hand sanitizer before entering.
Samples of teachers have been collected for testing ahead of the reopening, with 1,200 educators undergoing tests in the federal capital Islamabad alone.
“The federal minister for education (Shafqat Mahmood) himself will monitor implementation of SOPs in the federal capital while provincial governments will ensure implementation in their respective provinces,” Ali underlined.
A day before the educational institutions were set to reopen, Prime Minister Imran Khan wrote on Twitter that the government was looking forward to welcoming millions of children back to school in the coming days.
“It is our priority & collective responsibility to ensure that every child can go to school safely to learn,” said Khan.
Pakistan has recorded a total of 302,424 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the crisis broke out in February.
The South Asian country, with a population of 207 million people, has seen a sharp decline in the number of cases over the last month.
In the last 24 hours, 404 fresh cases were reported and six people lost their lives due to the COVID-19, according to official figures on Tuesday.