By SAMUEL BARIASI
PRIME Minister James Marape has confirmed that higher education institutions will resume classes on Monday, April 27, and schools the following Monday, May 4.
The decision was welcomed yesterday by universities which were becoming concerned by the prolonged suspension of classes due to the state of emergency declared on March 22.
Marape said there were protocols and guidelines to be observed by students, teachers and others engaged in the learning institutions as safety precautions against the spread of the Covid-19.
“They (universities, colleges etc) will use the month of May to try out the new protocols after which they will decide if they are working or not,” he said.
State of Emergency Controller David Manning in a statement on Sunday said only schools would be opened next Monday.
Fr Jan Czuba, the secretary to the Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (DHERST), told The National yesterday that higher education institutions must follow safety procedures provided to them.
He said students and staff who had left campus and now returning would be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days.
“Each institution must ensure that students are adequately assessed before entering campus,” he said.
University of PNG Chancellor Robert Igara said the University Council would be meeting today to discuss the resumption of classes.
“We expect to receive formal advice later today (yesterday) of the Government’s decision which the UPNG Council must also consider,” Igara told The National.
University of Goroka (UOG) Chancellor Joseph Sukwianomb welcomed the decision by the Government and said the university was ready to resume classes on Monday.
“A further delay would harm the integrity of our academic programmes,” he told The National.
He said UOG would continue to follow guidelines to maintain good hygiene and social distancing.
“The majority of our students live on campus but we have a facility in school for students living off campus to be in quarantine for 14 days,” he said.
Sukwianomb said higher education institutions would need funding to ensure that control measures were maintained.
Divine Word University vice-president Fr Phillip Gibbs said they were ready to resume lectures but some programmes would have to continue through Christmas and into New Year to complete all the learning activities.
“The state of emergency has certainly boosted our technological readiness,” Gibbs said.
Attempts to get comments from other universities and colleges yesterday were unsuccessful.
By SAMUEL BARIASI