Heated Debate on Educational Timetables Amid Viral Outbreak

Heated Debate on Educational Timetables Amid Viral OutbreakHeated Debate on Educational Timetables Amid Viral Outbreak

The timing of impending national tests and the start of the new school year have become a point of contention among Iranian officials, prompting Health Minister Saeed Namaki to attend a parliamentary session to discuss issues regarding the education sector amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Namaki on Sunday referred to the PhD exam held over the last weekend as proof that students can safely participate in tests despite the contagious disease, ISNA reported.
Namaki said, “The enforcement of health protocols during the test for entry to PhD programs was nearly flawless.” 
Approximately, 170,000 sat for PhD program exams over the last weekend.
On the next consequential test in the educational timetable, Namaki said, “We can hold the test for graduate programs with minimum errors, if safety protocols are intensified.”
Over one million students are expected to take the national university exams for entry to undergraduate and graduate programs in the coming weeks.
Parliamentarians have in recent days been citing poor implementation of social distancing rules in the PhD exam as grounds for postponing the next decisive tests.
The Health Ministry, the coronavirus taskforce and lawmakers were expected to make the final decision by Monday night.
With the start of the new school year one month away, officials continue to debate how to manage overcrowded classrooms.
According to a member of Imam Khomeini Relief Committee, some 30% of the student population in schools do not have access to internet or the means to attend online classes.
Education Minister Mohsen Haji-Mirzaei said on Monday, “Only 30% of Iranian schools have classes with fewer than 35 pupils, which can hold on-site educational activities.”
The number translates into only 10% of students attending schools. Schools are scheduled to reopen on Sept. 5.



Health Protocols in Other Sectors

Regular inspections by the Health Ministry revealed that malls and bakeries are places where the observation of safety measures is at the lowest level.
The health guidelines are more respected in the capital’s public transport system, with the rate of people wearing facemasks in metro trains standing at over 90%.
The promising figure, however, drops in city buses with an adherence rate of 40%
“Some 2,600 contracted Covid-19 within a 24-hour period, taking the national total to 312,035 on Monday,” Health Ministry Spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Iran logged 215 overnight fatalities, raising the country’s death toll to 17,405, she added. 
Zanjan, Lorestan, Ardabil, Fars and Tehran provinces have the highest death rates among Iran’s 31 provinces.
The spokeswoman noted that 14 provinces are on red alert, and 10 are in an alarming state due to rising infections and deaths.
Lari added, “So far, 270,000 have recovered from the infectious disease and 4,104 are critically ill.” 
Iran has administered 2.5 million diagnostic tests since the onset of the viral outbreak.
Global Covid-19 cases went past 18.25 million and fatalities reached 695,000.

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