Hit by second COVID-19 wave, Pakistan shuts educational institutions

Fresh cases of infection have started rising in the country, with over 3,000 cases being reported daily during the course of the week. Cases had substantially reduced in September, prompting educational institutions to reopen

November 27, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Pakistan schools shut down
(Photo: AV / Akbar Moeen)

Educational institutions in Pakistan were closed once again from Thursday, November 26 following a steep rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. Annual exams have also been postponed until mid-January. Classes will be held online.

Announcing the decision on Monday, education minister Shafqat Mahmood said that all efforts will be made to continue the classes for the remaining days of the session through virtual mode. If conditions improve, schools will reopen for in-person learning from January 11. Students in Pakistan are scheduled to go on winter vacation from December 24.

The ministry of education has proposed to push the date for the start of the new session to May, instead of the usual date in March, and to push the final board exams in order to give students more time to prepare. Some states, such as Punjab and Sindh, had expressed reservations about the shutting of schools. However, they finally agreed to follow the federal government’s advice.

Pakistan had reopened schools in September after keeping them closed for more than six months. This was after it was able to control the spike in new cases of infection. However, since the last few weeks, cases have been rising again, with the last three days recording over 3,000 cases each. Over 3,300 new cases and 40 deaths were reported on Wednesday, November 25.

Pakistan has recorded a total of more than 3,89,000 COVID-19 cases and around 7,900 deaths so far. The test positivity rate, which was as high as 23% in June but had come down to 1.7% in September, has started rising again, standing at 7.41% this week, Dawn reported. According to Pakistani health officials, the test positivity rate has doubled among people related to the education sector in the last week.

The government of Pakistan has ruled out any possibility of a nation-wide lockdown and has decided to put curbs on non-essential gatherings.