Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday welcomed the return of children to schools as education institutions reopened today across the country.

Taking to Twitter, PM Imran said, “Today we welcome millions of children back to school. It is our priority & collective responsibility to ensure that every child can go to school safely to learn”.

The premier underlined that the government has worked to ensure that school operations are aligned with public health safety rules on COVID-19.

Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood had last week announced the resumption of educational activities from September 15 in a phased manner after new virus cases recorded a steady decline over the past few weeks. The government had in March decided to shut all education institutions in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Addressing a press conference alongside Special Assistant to Prime Minister Dr Faisal Sultan, the education minister had said that the National Command and Operation Centre worked hard and consulted with members of think tanks, specialists, and kept reviewing the situation in the region.

"All universities, Higher Education Commission's (HEC) institutes and colleges will be reopened from September 15," said Mahmood. "[The government] has allowed for classes of grades IX, X and XI to be conducted [from September 15] as well."

The minister thanked parents for "patiently waiting" since the past six months, stating that the country is now able to reopen colleges and universities from September 15.

Stressing on the importance of monitoring children's health, Mahmood said that students of grade VI, VII and VIII will be able to attend classes from September 23.

He said that on September 30, if "situation remains better" primary educational institutions will be allowed to reopen.

"In the next phase, decisions relating to [holding] examinations will be taken," he said.

Mahmood clarified that vocational and skills-based institutes will also be allowed to reopen from September 15. He said that these included classes that focus on students of grade X and above.

"The reopening of schools is applicable on madressahs, public, private and vocational institutes as well," said the minister.

The minister warned educational institutes' management that failure to comply with COVID-19 SOPs would have consequences.