Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani said on Saturday that Sindh has delayed reopening secondary classes (VII to VIII) due to increasing coronavirus cases and will discuss the situation during the September 22 NCOC meeting.
He was speaking to the media in Hyderabad a day after announcing that the province would not be restarting secondary classes from September 21 as scheduled.
“We just delayed the move by a week,” he said, adding that it was announced before the NCOC meeting so that parents, students and the schools themselves are aware. “There’s nothing wrong with that,” he said, adding that each province has the power to decide this based on its own situation.
Schools across Pakistan were supposed to open in phases, universities, colleges and classes VIII, IX, and X on September 15, secondary classes (VI to VIII) on September 23 and lower classes on September 30. But Sindh announced on Friday that it was postponing the secondary classes’ resumption date. Multiple reports came in of students contracting the coronavirus.
Ghani announced the news in a press conference on Friday where he said they would take stock of the situation on September 28 and then decide when to call the other students back.
On Friday night, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said they hadn’t been informed of any decision to delay restarting secondary classes. He said it would have been better if Ghani had sought their advice before announcing the decision.
During Saturday’s press conference Ghani said he spoke to Mahmood after his Friday announcement.
He said as of Friday, 14,500 coronavirus tests have been conducted at schools across the province and the results of 5,000 have come back. So far, 91 people have tested positive for the virus.
Today, we sealed a government school in Karachi after two teachers tested positive for the virus, he said.
I understand that COVID-19 has negatively affected our children’s education and that the issues faced by private schools have increased and that owners are struggling to keep their schools alive, he said. “But to open schools for those reasons…for us, the Sindh government, our children’s health is more important than education and private schools’ losses.”
He said they want education to continue and want private schools to recoup their losses but they won’t do it at the price of the students’ health.
“If someone is upset, we will talk to you about it but we will not compromise on our children’s health.”