Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi directed on Wednesday that all precautionary measures be taken to protect students and teachers against the coronavirus pandemic, a statement by the presidency said.
El-Sisi's remarks came during his meeting with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Health Minister Hala Zayed, presidential health adviser Mohamed Awad Tag El-Din and state officials.
Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Rady said in the meeting tackled follow-up efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus and the preparations to combat a possible second wave of the pandemic, as well as the precautionary measures in the advent of the new school year.
Egypt's 2020/2021 school year will begin on 17 October. It is yet undecided if students will return to classrooms full-time. The decision to push back the school year to October instead of the September was the result of the spread of the coronavirus.
At Wednesday's meeting, the president directed the Ministry of Health to coordinate efforts to guarantee the safety of the students and teachers and the smooth operation of the academic process.
Egypt detected 176 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday after it had witnessed a slight increase in the daily tally of coronavirus cases since last week, reversing a low of 89 cases on 22 August, the lowest daily infection toll since early April.
Egypt fears a possible resurgence of infections due to the holidays, the latest being Eid Al-Adha in August, would reverse the downward trend in new infections and deaths in recent weeks, which came despite the lifting of lockdown measures at the end of June.
El-Sisi also called for intensifying awareness campaigns among the public against the coronavirus and to continue the state's general plan to coexist with the respiratory virus.
There are 23 million school students nationwide.
Schools and universities suspended classes in March in the wake of the pandemic. Most students have remained at home since, with assignments given online, although pupils taking their final high school exams did so in person in June and July.
Earlier in August, Minister of Education Tarek Shawky said the plan for dealing with the new academic year will be explained in detail by the first week of September.
On Tuesday, El-Sisi met with Shawky to discuss preparations for the new academic year and was briefed by the minister on the ministry’s comprehensive upgraded plan for the education system, including a digital transformation and a revamping of the high school system.
According to media reports, the education ministry is proposing reducing the number of school days for some school grades to two days only to help manage the risk of the coronavirus.