Stakeholders to decide on closure of schools after NCOC meeting

(MANEND NEWS): All stakeholders, including private school associations, School Education and Literacy department’s (SELD) officials, and education experts, concurred on keeping schools open until the provincial task force on coronavirus prepared its final report for National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC)’s next meeting.

According to the news report published in The News, the decision was taken during a meeting of the provincial school education and literacy department’s (SELD) Steering Committee held on Saturday.

Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani convened the steering committee meeting on the instructions of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah.

The development comes after the task force had advised the provincial government to close schools for at least two weeks.

As per the task force’s recommendation, the Sindh government has already banned inter-provincial transport in order to contain the virus.

APPSA opposes closure of schools
However, calling for continuity of educational activities at schools, the All Pakistan Private Schools Association (APPSA) opposed their closure.

According to the media coordinator of the provincial education minister, Zubair Memon, the stakeholders had a discussion on the possible plan of action to deal with the third COVID-19 wave.

“The steering committee was not in favour of taking any decision regarding the closure of schools, but the minister wanted to know the viewpoint of educators in the meeting.”

They maintained that the closure of educational institutes would not work to prevent COVID-19 spread until other sectors, including transport, parks, malls, restaurants, cinemas, markets, and political and social events were banned completely.

Read more: Sindh considering closing schools till class 8 as coronavirus cases continue to increase

“If it is necessary to shut down the educational institutions in the end, then physical classes for the junior classes should be suspended for two weeks and the policy of online classes or homework plan should be adopted,” the statement read.

The associations said the teaching of the eighth class and senior classes should continue and if the situation worsened in the following weeks, another month could be added to the vacations.

“The closure of private educational institutions would make it difficult for administrations and management to survive and assist the state in educating children,” the statement said.

Suggestions and possibilities
The media coordinator said that the first suggestion in the meeting came from officials of the education department who recommended deferral of classes from nursery to the seventh grade at schools for the next 15 days.

The second suggestion was about summer vacations. Generally, schools observe summer vacations in May and June but some education experts were of the view that the education department had the option of announcing earlier summer vacations from April 15 to May 16.

No decision as of now
Memon noted that after getting these suggestions from the stakeholders, the minister concluded the meeting, saying that he would present all the suggestions in the task force meeting so that the provincial government could prepare its final report for the next NCOC meeting.

“The meeting has taken no decision regarding closure of schools,” Memon clarified.

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