Coronavirus Outbreak – Educational Institutions Announce Plans to Deal with Second Wave

With the spread of the second wave of coronavirus, the cabinet has decided to close private and public universities. In addition to the coronavirus debate, cold weather is another reason for the closure of educational institutions. Officials at the Ministry of Higher Education say classes are not closed completely and universities are required to offer part-time and ancillary courses for students. According to ministry officials, universities should identify distance learning courses for students and continue this process.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education says that schools have not been closed due to the second wave of coronavirus. Ministry officials state that the closure of schools will be implemented in two stages due to the cold weather and lack of facilities. The ministry has decided not to hold the midterm exam for students this year.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health has announced an increase in coronavirus infections in the country. The ministry has asked citizens to wear masks and observe the standard distance, in addition to refraining from participating in crowds/gatherings. In addition, the Ministry of Public Health said that the death toll from coronavirus had increased. According to the ministry, 70 people have died from the coronavirus in the past week.

The cabinet decided on November 16 to close private and public universities from November 28. The cabinet made the decision after announcing the outbreak of the second wave of coronavirus. Earlier, the cabinet closed wedding hotels until the end of December to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Ministry of Higher Education now says it has closed all private and public universities as the second wave of coronavirus spreads and the weather gets cold. The Minister of Higher Education, Abbas Basir, told a news conference in Kabul on Sunday that the ministry had closed the country’s educational institutions until March 5, 2021, due to the outbreak of the second wave of coronavirus and the cold weather. He adds, “Another reason is that winter is approaching and if we continued our studies, it would cause problems in cold provinces. The issue of heating up classes is another serious problem in public and private universities.”

The Minister of Higher Education said that during the holidays, educational institutions would not be not closed completely, but that universities would continue their ancillary and part-time courses online. He explained that since private and public universities will be closed from November 28 to February 28 next year, all of these institutions would have to apply for part-time courses or support programs. To implement the program, he said, university professors need to identify the channels through which part-time courses will be offered. The Minister of Higher Education added that the plan should be finalized before the university closes, meaning by November 28. Mr. Basir also clarified that the curriculum used for the second semester that started from October 24 and which will be put off from November 28 until March 5, 2021, must be implemented through in-person lectures after the universities resume normal classes. He added that this group of students should prepare themselves with the necessary criteria for their courses after the classes are resume in person.

On the other hand, the Minister of Higher Education said that bachelor’s and master’s degree programs that complete their courses by November 28 should schedule their exams for March 5 of the coming year, if the health situation is favorable.

According to the Minister of Higher Education, if the health conditions are favorable from March 5, 2021, all educational institutions will be obliged to implement the schedule proposed by this ministry for four weeks after the institutions restart. He explained that universities must first complete in-person and lecture courses from March 5 to April 3 next year. Similarly, after completing the in-person courses, the final exam of the current semester will be held from the April 4 to 27. The Minister of Higher Education stated that based on this schedule, universities will hold exams for the second and third attempts at this semester from April 30 to May 9, 2021, so that the spring semester would start after May 10, 2021.

Midterm Exams not to be Held

The Ministry of Education also says that due to the cold weather, it will close public and private schools in two stages. Rangina Hamidi, head of the Ministry of Education, told the news conference that the decision to close the schools was not due to the second wave of coronavirus, but due to the cold weather. She said that since public and private schools do not have the facilities to heat the classrooms, the ministry has decided to close public schools in two steps. According to her, grades one to six in schools located in cold regions have been shut from November 21, and grades seven to twelve in these areas will also be shut from December 5. This is different, however, in very cold regions. According to Ms. Hamidi, grades one to twelve in schools in these areas have been shut from the start of the year. She added that the Ministry of Education has decided not to hold midterm exams of students due to lack of time.

On the other hand, the decision regarding private schools is different. The head of the Ministry of Education stated that the private schools started their classes one month before public schools, and if they continued until March 5, 2021, they would complete four and a half months. He added that private schools have asked the ministry to allow them to continue classes until December 5 this year. Ms. Hamidi clarified that the ministry had agreed with the private schools’ request but with four conditions. He explained that all private schools should heat up their classrooms because most schools are located in cities and there is a possibility that they will be heated. He added that private schools should complete all materials within two weeks and provide them to students. The head of the Ministry of Education also said that private schools should be subject to the decisions of the Ministry of Education not to hold midterm exams. She stated that private schools do not have the right to charge students in winter. Ms. Hamidi emphasized that in the event of violations, these schools would be dealt with seriously.

In other news, statistics from the Ministry of Public Health show that the number of people infected with coronavirus is increasing every day. Laila Jafari, the ministry’s deputy spokesperson, told 8 Subh that the number of people infected with the virus had risen from 18 to 29 percent in recent weeks. The Ministry of Public Health has developed comprehensive plans to prevent the spread of coronavirus, she said. Ms. Jafari added that the ministry has proposed the closure of some institutions to the cabinet to prevent the further spread of coronavirus. She also said that the ministry has taken steps to raise awareness, improve accuracy and increase the number of tests to better fight coronavirus. She advised citizens to wear masks and keep safe distance to combat the virus. Ms. Jafari asked citizens not to participate in gatherings and crowds and to wash their hands repeatedly with soap. The ministry warned that the number of people infected with the virus would increase if health advice was not taken seriously by citizens. The death toll from Covid-19 has risen in recent weeks, officials say. The graph shows that the death toll from the infection has risen to 70 in the past week.

It is worth mentioning that the first case of Covid-19 infection was registered on February 24 of this year in Herat province. Since then, the virus has spread to all provinces and so far, 44,706 people have been infected. Of these, 35,934 have recovered and 1,687 died. With the spread of coronavirus, the government implemented a quarantine program. For this reason, universities and schools were also closed. Eventually, universities reopened in August, while schools reopened in October.