Days of attendance at schools affiliated to Egypt's Al-Azhar have been reduced to keep pupils safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, as per recent regulations issued by the Al-Azhar Educational Institutes Sector on Wednesday, three days ahead of the onset of the new school year.
The new regulations allow Al-Azhar's students from first grade through to third grade to attend class in-person four days a week, while pupils from the fourth grade all the way to the third secondary school will attend school for only two days a week.
Al-Azhar's recent announcement represents a backtrack on the previous plan of allowing high-density schools to receive students five days a week and low-density schools to receive them three days a week.
The new regulations aim at reducing the density at classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a source reported by Al-Ahram Arabic news website. Under the new regulations, all educational institutes are required to adhere to all precautionary measures to curtail the spread of the deadly virus, the source added.
Egypt has two pre-university educational programmes: the regular school programme monitored by the country's Education Ministry and an education system programme monitored by Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world's top religious institution. Al-Azhar system includes all regular schools' curricula, in addition to a number of Islamic science subjects.
Less than three months before the end of the 2019/2020 academic year, Egypt suspended in-person classes at all schools and universities nationwide as part of sweeping anti-coronavirus measures, introducing a new research paper system as an alternative to written and oral exams for all grades, except for final year students, who sat for in-person exams in June and July.
Egyptian schools affiliated to the Education ministry are set to resume activities under a hybrid plan that will give students from kindergarten through high school the option of attending class in-person from two to four days a week to reduce density at classrooms due to the pandemic.
Egyptian officials have been advising caution in anticipation of any spike of coronavirus infections that have declined over the past three months, particularly with the advent of autumn and the beginning of the new school year.