COVID-19 has severely affected people’s lives, many have lost their loved ones, their jobs, and children’s education has also been badly affected. According to a UN report, the COVID-19 pandemic has “created the largest disruptions in the education systems in history.” The closure of schools in Pakistan disrupted the learning pursuit of over 40 million students of schools and colleges. About 10 percent or less than five million students of high fee private schools have resumed their learning through online tutorials but there were also many problems, for example, net issue, electricity issue, those who have more kids had to buy new devices and government promoted students to the next classes without merit. Whereas the rest about 35 million children been enrolled in government and low fee private schools have abandoned by the system, as management of these schools neither has the resources nor the capacity to launch individualized online classes for their students.

Fed up with all these problems, everyone has the same question that when the schools will reopen. It was decided in an interprovincial meeting headed by Federal Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood that all educational institutions in Pakistan will reopen from September 15. Even in this decision, the public has different opinions, some are opposing and some are in favor that the COVID-19 pandemic is in control and there is no lockdown in the country then educational institutions should also be opened.

Apart from the opinion of the public, the opening of the schools from September 15 is a big risk since people found out that Coronavirus is in control, they have again started taking it easy. Just like when the COVID-19 was controlled before Eid-ul-Fitr, people stopped taking its precautions then after Eid it came on its peak and became very difficult to control. Again people are repeating the same mistake due to which Pakistan reports 496 new cases and 9 deaths in just 24 hours.

If we open schools, what will happen to Pakistan?  Because a considerable number of teachers and school staff are older than 50 years in Pakistan. Some of them may possibly also have underlying health conditions and COVID-19 quickly affects those with a weakened immune system.

A contact survey in Wuhan and Shanghai, China, showed that school closure significantly reduced the rate of COVID-19 among contacts of school-aged children. As far as the government is concerned, with the implementation of Coronavirus SOPs, the educational institutions should be reopened. But the fact is efforts for social distancing and banning intermingling of students and teachers are not enforceable at the school level and expecting social distancing and masks requirements from the lower grades is unrealistic because they can’t even take care of themselves, how will they take care of SOPs?

As compared to Pakistan, the US and Israel are developed nations. But as schools reopen, the report shows 97,000 U.S. Kids infected with COVID in late July. And, when Israel reopened schools in May after COVID-19 was controlled new cases quickly increased and rippled out to student’s homes and neighborhoods. The resurgence eventually forced some 240 schools to close down and more than 22500 students and teachers to quarantine. The Pakistani government is thinking for the sake of the nation that the education of the children has suffered so much but nothing is more important than our life. If we are alive only then we will be able to study or do anything.

Once Muharram ends, observe COVID-19 in Pakistan and if the situation is manageable then reopen the educational institutions so that the risk factor becomes 0. These kids are pillars on which Pakistan will stand tomorrow. So we should save them and protecting their lives should be our first priority.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.

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