In a meeting conducted by education ministers in the country, it has been decided that all educational institutes will be reopened in phases. According to Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood, the initiative was taken after careful consideration of the health conditions prevailing in the country and on account of the colossal educational loss suffered by students across Pakistan. However, considering that transmission rates haven’t gone down and new strains of COVID-19 are manifesting, there is a dire need for strict safety measures to be endorsed and adopted.
According to details released, the first wave allows for the return of students from grades nine to 12 on January 18, the second phase for grades one to eight on January 25 and the third for higher education students on February 1. Furthermore, a 50 percent attendance policy, which would entail sectioning the total number of students into halves, has been implemented. This is the best course of action, and a well thought out one at that, for the circumstances we are living in. Given the complications that were arising from online instruction, many students found themselves at a natural disadvantage by virtue of their economic standing, social environment, geographical location, mental health and the like. On top of all this, the quality of education dispensed also suffered in quality. Through this, some sense of normalcy is expected to return.
In the same breath, it is imperative that we do not forget that the second wave is still raging, and infection rates don’t seem to be going down. If authorities do not approach this step cautiously, the situation may worsen rapidly. As such, comprehensive protocols are needed within institutions that highlight the importance of taking preventative measures like social distancing, wearing masks and using sanitisers. Only through making this process foolproof can we truly make some progress and protect the health of our children.