ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: After recording an exceptional decline in COVID-19 cases, Pakistan is considering the opening of educational institutions.
The National Command & Operation Centre (NCOC) held a Special Session in Islamabad on Thursday morning with a single point agenda of the opening of educational institutions across Pakistan, the Dispatch News Desk (DND) news agency reported.
The representatives of educational institutions including public, private and madaris were invited at the NCOC morning session for taking all stakeholders on board, consultations, and consensus-based decisions for the opening of various institutions from University to school levels.
All provincial, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit-Baltistan focal representatives joined the meeting through video link.
The NCOC apprised the participants about the present COVID-19 situation at global, regional, and Pakistan’s own COVID-19 curve.
The participants were informed about the risk and challenges involved after the opening of educational institutions as it involved children of all ages.
The participants were informed that these challenges were mapped after hectic and lengthy consultations with international experts, academia, and think tanks, particularly who we’re working on educational sector opening.
The Federal Minister for Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mahmood said that the basic challenge to open educational institutions in two areas that is what are indicators for opening and what measures are taken to ensure that health guidelines ensuring the use of face mask, social distancing and hygiene measures.
Shafqat Mahmood said that the final decision will be taken on September 7 after consensus and input from all stakeholders.
The NCOC suggested a strategy to participants about the graduating opening of educational institutions basing on best practices and input from various experts.
It suggested that the educational institutions be opened on top to bottom approach (University, College, High Schools, etc) on a rotation basis.
It also suggested that timings of various institutions be staggered with suspending various activities that involve contraction and mass gatherings including co-curricular activities.
The educational institutions must ensure all COVID protocols and prepare accordingly before the final decision.
The NCOC apprised the participants that tracking, tracing, and testing will help arrest any spread. For this, enhance the testing of symptomatic children, teachers, and school staff will be very beneficial.
All provinces, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan apprised the NCOC forum about measures being taken including consultations with various educational institutions in their respective areas including teachers training and COVID awareness.
The Prime Minister’s Special Adviser on National Health Services, Regulation, and Coordination Dr. Faisal Sultan told the participants that while the eventual opening will be undertaken a consensus process, the NCOC and the Ministry of Health will intimately monitor the disease statistics on daily basis, particularly to assess the likely impact of tourism and Muharram on the opening of educational institutions.
Dr. Faisal said that an IT-based monitoring mechanism be developed to ensure health guidelines and COVID containment measures.
The representatives from various institutions thanked the NCOC for inviting and consultative process.
The representatives gave their detailed input on school opening measures and assured the forum about the compliance of health guidelines particularly wearing of face mask, social distancing, and handwashing protocols.