Sindh and Punjab stuck to the old schedule of winter vacations in education institutions despite the recommendations of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Friday to push back the holidays in January.
The NCOC – the nerve centre of the government’s anti-Covid strategy – announced that the winter vacations in the educational institutions would commence from January 3 except in areas affected by extreme weather conditions or fog, in order to maximise vaccine uptake among the students.
Hours later, however, the Sindh government decided to start of the vacations from December 21, while the Punjab government announced the vacations from December 23 to January 6. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government said that vacations would begin on December 24 in the hilly areas.
A notification issued by the Sindh Education Department said that the winter vacations would be observed from December 20 to January 1. It added that since January 2 would fall on Sunday, therefore, all educational institutions across Sindh would reopen on Monday, January 3, 2022.
Similarly, Punjab Education Minister Murad Raas said in a tweet that the province would observed the vacations from December 23 to January 6. the minister urged the people to get vaccinated and follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs).
“ANNOUNCEMENT – All Public & Private Schools of Punjab to remain closed for winter vacation starting December 23rd, 2021 to January 6th, 2022. Please get vaccinated and follow SOPs issued by the government,” Raas tweeted.
All Public & Private Schools of Punjab to remain closed for winter vacation starting December 23rd, 2021 to January 6th, 2022. Please get vaccinated and follow SOPs issued by the government.
— Murad Raas (@DrMuradPTI) December 17, 2021
Meanwhile, during hearing of multiple petitions pertaining to air pollution across Punjab, the Punjab government informed the Lahore High Court (LHC) that the vacations in the province would be observed from December 23 to January 4.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Education Minister Shahram Khan Tarakai said in a tweet that the province would follow the NCOC decision. Accordingly, he said that vacations in the plains of the province would begin on January 3 but in the cold hilly areas, the closure would start from December 24.
“In pursuance of the NCOC session, winter vacations schedule has been notified. In plain areas, vacations will be from 3rd Jan to 12th Jan 2022, and in hilly regions, vacations will be from 24 Dec to 28 Feb 2022,” the minister announced.
Earlier, Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood met NCOC chief Asad Umar and suggested to him that winter vacations should commence from the usual December 20 date because many families make plans for the vacations in advance, source said.
The sources added that the Umar, however, pointed out that if the Omicron variant spread in the country, it would be around in January and in that case education institutions would have to be closed again. However, he stressed that the matter would be taken up in the NCOC meeting.
An NCOC statement said that the forum reviewed the rescheduling of the winter vacations. It added that Education Minister Mahmood and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan were also present in the meeting.
The forum noted that vaccine coverage among the students could be maximised if the educational institutions were open in December. “Millions of students remain unvaccinated, and data suggest that children may be susceptible to infection,” the NCOC said.
“Parents are urged to get their children vaccinated at the earliest to protect them and those around them,” it added. The statement also said that global trends regarding the spread of the Omicron variant suggested that an upsurge of cases typically occurred in a few weeks of the detection of the variant.
“Therefore, it will be prudent to schedule the vacations in January to coincide with the potential uptick of cases,” the statement, said, adding that starting vacations from next month would allow for minimal disruption of educational calendars if there was a surge in Covid cases.
(WITH INPUT FROM NEWS DESK)