ISLAMABAD - The government has decided to re-open all educational institutions from September 15, Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood said yesterday.

He, however, said that the health indicators of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) will be considered twice before implementing the decision.

The minister said this while addressing a press briefing here after the meeting of National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) and Inter Provincial Education Ministers Conference (IPEMC).

Informing about the decisions taken in the NCOC and IPEMC about re-opening of the institutions, the minister said that it has been decided with consensus of all provinces to re-open the educational institutions from September 15 across the country.

However, he said that before implementing the decision, the meeting of IPEMC will be held twice in the beginning and end of the month of August to review the health indicators of COVID-19.

“If the health indicators of COVID-19 remained favourable, all educational institutions will be opened from September 15,” said Shafqat Mahmmod.

Earlier, the government had announced opening of the educational institutions from July 15 after they were closed to stop the spread of COVID-19 infection in the month of March.

The federal minister for education said that during this time the authorities will review and discuss the situation of spread for two to three times.

“If the situation is not improved then the institution will remain closed,” he said.

The minister said that all educational institutions will prepare Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) while provincial and federal authorities in their jurisdictions will strictly monitor implementation on SOPs.

He said that the provinces have come with multiple recommendations about the procedures to be opted and institutions will implement the suitable formulas.

He also said that before September 15, the institutions have been allowed to open their administration offices and teaching faculty to practice the SOPs during these two months.

“The timetable will be decided by the institutions themselves,” he said.

About the research students enrolled in M. Phil and PhD programs, the minister said that universities have been allowed to call students from the 3rd week of July to start their research activities under the SOPs.

For the students hailing from far flung areas where the internet availability was a problem and students were struggling in taking online classes, the minister said that universities have been allowed to adjust 30 percent of such students in hostels.

Informing about the examinations and entry tests, Shafqat Mahmood said that the mandatory entry tests and examinations will be also conducted by institutions but under certain rules monitored by the authorities.

“Admission and entry tests of professional associations, universities and testing bodies will be allowed from the 3rd week of July under SOPs developed by the institutions,” he said.

He said that the examinations will be conducted maintaining six feet distance between candidates, wearing masks will be mandatory and will be done in a staggered way to reduce the spread of virus.