Covid-19: schools in seven Punjab cities, Islamabad being closed for two weeks.

ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Wednesday announced the closure of schools in several cities from Monday (March 15) following a spike in coronavirus cases.

The announcement was made by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood accompanied by Special Assistant to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Health Dr Faisal Sultan at a presser here after a meeting at the National Command and Operations centre (NCOC).

While briefing the media, the federal minister said educational institutes would be closed in Islamabad and other Punjab cities from Monday for two weeks. "The good news is that in Sindh and Balochistan, the situation is pretty much normal. As per the decisions taken [during the meeting], only 50% of students will be allowed in schools in Sindh and Balochistan and they will observe all SOPs including social distancing and wearing masks," he said.

However, the minister said that in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while 50% of attendance in educational institutions will be followed, some cities will see stricter measures. "All educational institutions in Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Gujrat, Multan, Rawalpindi and Sialkot will remain closed from March 15 till 28," he said, adding that the closure will be counted as a spring break.

In Islamabad as well, schools and other educational institutions will also be closed from Monday on account of a spring break and be reopened on March 28.

In KP, the same measures will be taken for Peshawar's educational institutions.

"Owing to a rise in positivity ratios in Peshawar, educational institutions and schools will remain closed from Monday, March 15 till March 28," he said. "In other districts and cities [of KP], attendance will be 50% subject to the ongoing situation," he said, adding that provincial governments will hold a constant review of the situation and will have the right to order the closure of schools, educational institutions and other places keeping in mind the coronavirus situation.

However, the Higher Education Commission (HEC) has asked universities to continue with their academic activities online. In a statement released by the commission soon after the ministerial announcement, it said that following the announcement government for Spring holidays in academic institutions in the selected cities due to recent upsurge in Covid-19 cases, all universities shall continue to operate as per guidelines issued earlier except for the universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) in...

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