Jordan’s school holiday could be extended 'to break Covid cycle'

Education Ministry announced that new term would be postponed then changed course

Students are pictured at a public school in Ain Al Basha as 2. 2 million students in Jordan are back to schools after almost 17 months of learning online due to Covid-19 restrictions. AFP

A new coronavirus wave could lead to an extended winter break for schoolchildren in Jordan, a senior official said on Monday, amid confusion about when schools will resume.

The Education Ministry announced on Sunday that the start of the second term would be postponed until February 20 due to high infection rates among the population.

But the ministry then said this was not the case, without giving a reason.

Brig Hatem Al Zubi, deputy director of Jordan’s Crisis Management Centre, told official television that postponing classes might still be necessary.

“I cannot judge from now but this could be a solution to make a shift and break the cycle of infections,” Mr Zubi said.

He said an extension would give authorities more time to execute a plan to vaccinate pupils at home during the winter break, which started in December.

The majority of pupils in Jordan are not vaccinated.

Mr Zubi said 4.1 million out of Jordan’s 10.7 million population have been vaccinated in a drive aimed largely at over-18s.

But all schoolchildren would need to be vaccinated and all teachers would need to receive a third vaccine dose for in-person classes to continue, he said.

Health officials said this month that Jordan had entered a fourth wave of rising coronavirus infections, due largely to the arrival of the Omicron variant.

In November they announced that the country had entered a third wave.

Official data showed that about 13,000 people in Jordan have died from the coronavirus, with 1.1 million infections recorded since the pandemic began. But doctors say the numbers, especially infections, are significantly higher because of a young population and low testing rates.

A daily report by Health Ministry said on Sunday that 12 per cent of the 30,000 people who took PCR tests in the previous 24 hours had tested positive for Covid-19.

Updated: January 17, 2022, 11:45 AM