The Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC) has decided to reopen schools in two phases.
In a meeting chaired by the Federal Education Minister, Shafqat Mehmood, it was decided that classes for grades 9 to 12 would be resumed from 18 January, classes for primary schools would be resumed on 25 January, and that all universities and colleges would resume regular classes on 1 February.
The minister had initially held reservations over the matter as the infection rate had increased manifold and has been stranding normalcy on various fronts.
Had a meeting today with RWP/Islamabad private schools association. They are obviously concerned about schools closure. Told them that I am equally concerned. Hope infection rates go down so that we can open all educational institutions pic.twitter.com/eGu18hOYYb
— Shafqat Mahmood (@Shafqat_Mahmood) January 1, 2021
Today, the decision about the reopening of all the schools and colleges was made official according to Murad Raas of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), following which School Education Punjab retweeted his announcement.
Opening of Educational Institutions in Punjab.
Classes 9,10,11,12 to open on January 18th 2021. Classes ECE through 8th to open on January 25th, 2021. Universities to open on February 1st, 2021. All institutions will have 50% students on alternate days as before.
— Murad Raas (@DrMuradPTI) January 4, 2021
As usual, citizens resorted to Twitter to voice their concerns and play the ‘rightful opinion’ card.
— Farah Rajput 🇵🇰🇵🇰 (@IamFarahNaseem) January 4, 2021
University students played the ‘mujhay kuch nai ata‘ card and hoped for the best.
— Chiryanka Popra (@Kaaamchoor) January 4, 2021
— chaos (@itzhamas) January 4, 2021
A few hearts were broken, and some tears were shed.
— طیبہ اجمل🐼 (@apkii_phopho) January 4, 2021
— Haris (@Hen_acha_theak) January 4, 2021
— Hamid Faraz 🎉🤑 (@HamidMadBoi) January 4, 2021
Many expressed their doubts on the new schedule amidst a lethal pandemic exposure and the threat to healthcare.
Sir but higher education institutes should ve opened…they can follow SOPs and uni students..specially last semester students are waiting for your reopening announcement..
— Subhan Afzal Official (@SubhanAfzalOff1) January 1, 2021
Medical Colleges Students are taking benefits from present situation by manipulating it wrongly.
Kindly consider Icelandic research on COVID and open educational institutions asap.
— Tahseen Yousaf (@TahseenYousaf_) January 1, 2021
Sir, covid is spreading and mutant strain has also reached Karachi. PLZZ don't open the educational institutions especially med clgs cuz majority of med students r hstllites nd in direct link with hospital. So there is a high risk of spreading of infection.🥺
— Sayyed Askari Naqvi (@SyedAskariNaqv1) January 1, 2021
The government approved the recurring plans for the reopening of all the educational institutions while some had just started to adjust to the new norm of online classes.
— Misra💫 (@Misra2911) January 4, 2021
Denial is a tricky thing, and perhaps satirical in reactions such as these:
— BadaltyRang (@Badaltyrang) January 4, 2021
— EêShâL..🖤 (@ScarryLost_SouL) January 4, 2021
A few had been hopeful for extended stay-at-home plans, but it is too late for that now.
We are looking forward to moving on from something as mundane as this:
— M a r i a k h a n 🦋 (@oye_hoyeMK) January 4, 2021
— Acha bacha (@A6a_bacha) January 4, 2021
Public opinion is a strong catalyst that influences the government at even the highest level at times. Perhaps the Twitterati’s reactions will force the Minister of Education to amend his decision, but that is something that only time will tell.
As per details, the final decision to reopen all the schools was taken after the officials had considered the advice from the Ministry of Health.
It should be noted that the association of private schools has played an integral part in prompting the government to devise a timeline for the reopening of all the schools. The federal government had previously ordered the closure until 10 January on the recommendation of the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC).