School hours in coronavirus-free islands to be increased to 5 hours

Education Minister Dr. Aishath Ali. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Education Minister Dr. Aishath Ali has announced the decision to increase school hours in islands with no COVID-19 cases to five hours, starting next week.

She made the announcement during a press conference at Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) on Wednesday evening.

“We are now working on transitioning back from new normal to normal. As we take this path, we have decided to increase school hours in islands with no COVID infections. We previously taught four hours per session. But starting next week, we will open opportunity for islands in the atolls to increase school hours to five hours,” she said.

Dr. Aishath said the long closure of schools has had a detrimental effect on the education of students, and that physical classes are far more beneficial to students that virtual classes.

‘Researchers are carrying out research to identify the impact of this. It shows the students are facing great learning loss. Mathematics skills, for one, is dropping because the students haven’t been to school for such a long duration. It is therefore very important that students are taken to school to learn,” she said.

Schools were originally closed in March, after which classes were held virtually.

Schools in Male’ – the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in Maldives – were reopened for ninth graders and above under strict health safety measures in July after a drop in COVID-19 numbers. However, the relaxation of the lockdown measures in Male’ led to a spike in numbers in the weeks that followed, leading to schools being closed once again.

Schools in Male’ are currently open for eleventh and twelfth graders, and schools are scheduled to reopen for tenth and ninth graders on October 4.