Millions of students in Pakistan returned to class on Tuesday after a six-month hiatus as schools and colleges reopened for the first time since the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Education institutions closed in March when the coronavirus began to spread in Pakistan. With the daily number of infections falling, the government announced a staggered resumption of classes last week.
“May God make us successful in this test and compensate for the loss of students,” Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood told reporters in Islamabad.
The senior schools were the first to restart. Middle school should return next week and elementary school the following week.
The long shutdown resulted in exams being canceled and the academic calendar in disarray.
“The study was very badly affected,” Naseem Akhtar, director of a girls’ school in the port city of Karachi, told Reuters.
“We appreciate the government’s decision to open schools starting today.”
Mahmood warned that schools would close if they did not take precautions, including wearing masks and social distancing.
“The safety of these children is in our hands,” Karachi teacher Sameera Chaudhry told Reuters.
Pakistan has recorded 302,424 cases of the coronavirus and more than 6,300 deaths, but daily infections have slowed from a high of nearly 7,000 and 118 deaths in a day in June.
On Monday, authorities reported 404 new cases and six deaths.
“Online courses are not as interesting as real courses. If we do not understand something in regular classes, we can easily ask the teacher to explain it,” said student Dua Mohammad Saleem.
She said she was pleased with the safety rules, but some government officials were skeptical, saying younger children couldn’t follow the rules.