Caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab chaired a meeting devoted to discussing distance learning with the start of the academic school year, in light of recent health developments and the surge in coronavirus cases. The meeting was attended by Ministers of Education, Tarek Majzoub, Interior and Municipalities, Mohammad Fahmi, Industry, Imad Hoballah, Telecommunications, Talal Hawat, and Health, Hamad Hassan, in the presence of PM’s Advisors, khodor Taleb, Petra Khoury, and Hussein Kaafarani. After the meeting, Minister Majzoub read out the following decisions:


1- In light of the recommendations of the Coronavirus Follow up Committee, and due to the increase in positive coronavirus cases to 8% over the past two weeks, and since this infection rate is dangerous for physical school attendance, and in order to preserve the health status in Lebanon, we have decided to adjourn the physical school attendance for public and private schools and institutes for the pre-baccalaureate level until Monday, October 12, 2020. A decision will be issued later on, featuring all relevant details. Official exams will resume while observing the necessary health measures.


2- We have also decided to extend the Council of Minister’s decision related to doubling the local internet speed and volume on an extraordinary and provisional basis for landline subscribers, within the limits of available technical capacities and with no additional cost.


3- We have secured free stationary for 150,000 public school pupils from grade 1 to grade 6, in partnership with organizations and donor countries. We are also working to provide remaining additional stationary.


4- We have ensured masks, sanitizers, thermometers and other materials, free of charge, for all public schools and secondary schools.


5- We have fully restored all public educational institutions, including schools, secondary schools and Lebanese University’s faculties, and we have partly rehabilitated private universities affected by the port blast.


6- We have transferred 8 million dollars to the Central Bank of Lebanon, to be deposited in the public schools and middle schools-related funds; this amount will be disbursed at the official platform’s rate. An additional 8 million dollars will be soon transferred to all public schools and secondary schools.


Amidst the current difficult health situation, we invite everyone to benefit from the upcoming two weeks to abide by preventive measures in order to reduce the infection rate so that we can secure school return through blended learning and continue working with other relevant ministries to secure distance learning requirements. We have also agreed with the Minister of Public Health on accompanying physical school attendance by conducting free PCR tests for any suspicious case, according to the defined health and educational protocol.


In sum, public and private schools and institutes for the pre-baccalaureate level will remain closed for physical attendance for two weeks. We call on everyone to respect preventive measures for us to preserve our educational sector.


The Minister of Education added that measures will be taken against schools that do not comply with this decision, especially the two-week closure.


Source: National News Agency

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