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‘Classes for grades 1-8 won’t resume for now’

Islamabad : As the schools and colleges will resume in-person classes for grades nine to 12 today (Monday), federal education minister Shafqat Mahmood on Sunday announced that the students in grades 1-8 won’t return to classrooms for the time being.

He said the resumption of in-person learning for grades 1-8 would be announced by the provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The announcement was made following an ‘emergency’ online meeting of the provincial, GB and AJK health and education ministers on Sunday.

The participants unanimously decided that classes for grades nine to 12 would resume in the districts identified as hotspots for coronavirus today (Monday), while classes 1-8 would continue to be suspended with the provincial, GB and AJK authorities announcing details later.

On April 6, the federal government had announced that the in-person classes for grades 1-8 would remain closed throughout the country until April 28.

According to education minister Shafqat Mahmood, classes 9-12 will commence in the coronavirus-hit districts in a staggered manner with 50 per cent attendance to let students prepare for the imminent board exams.

He also said exams for 9-12 grades would be held in line with the new date sheets announced by the education boards.

“This means [exams] will not start before 4th week of May,” he said in a tweet.

The minister said the universities would adjust admission schedules keeping in view the new exam timetable.

He said the ministers decided with complete consensus that A, AS, O level and IGCSE exams would take place as per date sheet announced by the Cambridge Assessment International Education. “There will be no [exam] delay or cancellation. Those wishing to take exams in Oct or Nov can do so with the fee already paid,” he said.

The meeting was also informed that the Cambridge had decided not to give teacher-assessed grades to students in the current academic year and therefore, those not sitting exams would take them in the next cycle i.e. Oct/Nov.

“Cambridge also assured [us] that all SOPs will be strictly followed [during exams],” the minister tweeted.

The minister also announced that universities in COVID-19 hotspots would continue to hold classes online, while those in the districts with less than eight per cent coronavirus positivity rate would continue to function.

Educational institutions across the country were closed for in-person learning late February last year after the coronavirus cases began to rise. However, they were reopened in phases starting from September 15.

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