Early extended winter vacations for closure of schools as been recommended by The National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) during the rise in Covid-19 positivity cases at educational institutions and schools.
A statement was issued by the NCOC on Wednesday, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar held a meeting of the forum and went through the epidemic curve data that dictated the prevalence of coronavirus all across the country.
It has been identified that the positivity in Covid-19 cases was found in schools, colleges and universities and there was an urgent need to look into this rapid rise.
On November 16, the forum came up with a decision that Shafqat Mahmood, Education Minister will chair an exclusive meeting at the NCOC to evaluate and review the positivity ratio in educational institutions.
The statement said that the provincial education ministers will also be present in the meeting and the recommendations decided will be discussed with the provinces for implementation and decision-making.
The statement added:
“The forum, taking into account a rising positivity ratio, has suggested early and extended winter vacations […] to ensure safety and health of students,”
The Inter-Provincial Education Ministers Conference went against the decision for extended winter vacations last week. Limiting the vacations or no vacations at all was recommended previously by the ministers so that the students could cover their study plans and syllabus.
Furthermore, decision regarding marriage ceremonies, the NCOC stated on Wednesday that outdoor events with a maximum of 500 people only will be allowed from November 20.
The statement said:
“The forum was told that the disease had increased three-fold since the NCOC recommended a ban on large public gatherings and outdoor activities on October 12 and November 3 to the National Coordination Committee (NCC) for its final decision. However consensus by all stakeholders is awaited,”
They also stressed the NCC to increase restrictions on high risk sectors, specifically public gatherings with a large number of people and recommended emergency measures for final approval once consensus is reached by all stakeholders.
The forum urged all stakeholders to follow necessary SOPs during a very predictable second wave of the global pandemic.
NCOC has come up with the following measures for input from all stakeholders and passed on the recommendations to the NCC for approval:
- A ban on all public gatherings of more than 500 people. This includes political, cultural, religious and civil society gatherings
- Early and extended winter vacations after input from the federal and provincial education ministers
- Only outdoor dining till 10pm and take-away
- Closing down cinemas, theatres and shrines with immediate effect
- Early closing of markets with “safe days”
For the present, a rapid increase in Covid-19 positivity ratio requires urgent steps to save ‘lives and livelihood’ as per the federal planning minister’s instructions.
“Since mid-October, when the NCC first considered the NCOC recommendation to ban large public gatherings, daily cases have nearly tripled,”