ISLAMABAD: The Higher Education Commission (HEC) on Wednesday announced that all universities shall continue to operate as per guidelines issued earlier except for universities in a few cities where online classes will be conducted for two weeks.
The decision was taken following the federal government’s announcement related to the spring holidays across academic institutions in selected cities due to the recent upsurge in COVID-19 cases.
According to a statement released by the HEC in this regard, an exception will be given to universities and higher education institutions (HEIs) in the following cities: Faisalabad, Lahore, Multan, Sialkot, Peshawar, Gujranwala, Gujrat, Rawalpindi, and Islamabad.
“All universities and HEIs in the above-mentioned cities shall remain closed for physical attendance during March 15-28, 2021,” said the statement.
The HEC, however, stressed that academic activities will continue online during this period. Moreover, on-going and pre-scheduled exams can be conducted as planned with the complete observance of COVID-19 health and safety protocols.
“Universities are advised to ensure strict observance of the COVID-19 minimum health and safety protocols i.e., thermal scanning, wearing facemasks, social distancing, availability and regular use of sanitisers, and disinfection of buildings,” the statement said.
In addition, the commission advised universities to seek further guidance, if required, from the Chair or the provincial/regional members of the COVID-19 Oversight Committee or email at [email protected]
Earlier in the day, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood announced the closure of schools in several cities beginning Monday, March 15, following a spike in coronavirus cases.
Speaking to the media after a meeting at the National Command and Operations (NCOC), the federal minister said educational institutes would be closed in Islamabad and other Punjab cities from Monday for two weeks.
While briefing the media about school opening modalities, Shafqat Mehmood said, “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.”
However, the federal education 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.