The federal government, after scrutiny of current Covid-19 pandemic situation, Friday extended the date for reopening of primary and middle schools (Class 1-8) from January 25 to February 1, in order to ensure safety of the students. Minister for Federal Education and Professional Training Shafqat Mehmood announced the decision at a press conference after a detailed meeting with provincial education and health ministers and secretaries at the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC). It thoroughly reviewed current Covid-19 situation in the country prior to formally announcing the decision with regard to reopening of educational institutions across the country. In his briefing to media, Shafqat Mahmood said the government’s prior decision will be followed regarding reopening of high and intermediate schools (9-12) from 18th of January and Universities from 1st February. “This year no student will be promoted without examinations”, he added. He said the government would again review the pandemic situation during the next week prior to opening of primary schools on February 1. In the meeting, further decisions will be taken keeping in view positivity ratio in cities, he added. He pointed out that educational institutions had been closed on November 26, due to the increasing trend in positivity rate which was 7.14 percent at that time. The experts had now informed that due to closure of educational institutions, the positivity rate had declined from 7.14 to 6 percent, he added. The coronavirus cases, he said, were still increasing in the country and added the education sector had faced huge loss due to pandemic during the last eight months. Shafqat said the infection in major urban centers was still higher, therefore in the next week, NCOC would decide about re-opening of educational institutions in high risk cities. He said currently average deaths had been counted 44 per day as compared to 46 few days back. The daily cases average in the country was around 2300 as compared to 3000 few days back, he said. He further informed that the critical patients in the country have increased from 1958 to 2339. Earlier, the NCOC decided to resume classes from 9th to 12th grade with the exception of educational institutions existing in extreme winter zone of the country from January 18. The NCOC special session held to review the overall Covid-19 situation in context of opening the educational institutions. The Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar chaired the meeting with federal and provincial health and education ministers on board while the provincial ministers attended it via video link. After a deliberate discussion, the forum made following decisions as class 9th to 12th and equivalent would be opened from January 18, except winter zone. It also decided to resume pre-primary, primary, middle and higher education (university level) classes from February 1, 2021. However, the NCOC would further review on January 20, whether the institutions be opened across the board or a differentiated approach be adopted from February 1. The districts and cities with high positivity to remain close, it declared. Moreover, it would also mull over the fact that in case of schools’ closure, they could be opened for a day in a week as practiced by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to mitigate the disease spread. Keeping in view the following aspects, the decision for opening the education sector from February 1, would be finalized on January 20, the forum was told.