The government has decided to reopen educational institutions from September 12 after a prolonged closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
The decision was taken at a meeting of Primary and Mass Education Ministry and Education Ministry with the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 on Thursday.
The country has recently seen a rapid drop in the Covid-19 infection rate, which led the government to lift a nationwide strict lockdown on August 11 while normalcy returns at the public and private offices.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni on Friday declared that schools and colleges (from primary to higher secondary levels) will be reopened on September 12. Her announcement came amid the demand for reopening of educational institutions.
“We have already made arrangements for the reopening [of schools]. We have fixed September 12 [as the reopening date] in line with the instructions of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” she said.
After attending a programme in Chandpur, Dr Dipu Moni also said the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher School Certificate (HSC) and their equivalent examinations will also go ahead as per the previous decision of the ministry.
About the universities, she said the syndicates and academic councils of the universities can decide to reopen the higher educational institutions along with the school-college on September 12 if they wish.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque at his Secretariat office on Thursday also told reporters that they have decided to allow in-person activities at the medical colleges and nursing institutes from September 13 in phases. Earlier last week, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told parliament that she directed the authorities concerned to reopen all schools and colleges soon and they were taking measures in this regard.
She also said teachers had already been given the Covid-19 vaccine while the authorities took measures to inoculate school students against the virus in line with the protocols of the World Health Organization.
Since August 20, students aged 18 and above are allowed to register for the vaccination on the government’s Surokkha app while the minimum age for the vaccination is 25 for others.
According to data from the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), 14,19,291 students between 18 and 25 years registered for the vaccination till September 1. The figure excludes the students of medical colleges. Of them 2,25,097 students received their first dose while 63,666 received both the doses.
Welcoming the reopening decision, Ovibabok Oikya Forum President Ziaul Kabir Dulu told the Daily Sun that they want reopening of the educational institutions in phases.
He, however, has expressed concern for the junior students as he thinks that maintaining social distance and health guidelines will be difficult at the institutes. Dulu also urged the government to ensure vaccines for the students and strictly monitor the health guideline.
Earlier on August 26, the education ministry at a meeting decided that all students of public and private universities would be vaccinated by September and in-person classes at the universities would begin on October 17.
According to the education ministry, it plans to start classes of SSC and HSC examinees for 2021 first. There is a possibility that they will attend in-person classes twice a week.
The students of class-III, IV and V may go to schools twice a week after the reopening while students of class-I and II once a week. Students of classes VI to IX will also go to their schools once a week. The number of the class days will be increased depending on the pandemic situation.
Earlier, the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) and the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) sent guidelines to all primary and high schools and colleges asking them to be ready for reopening.
Following the instruction, the authorities of schools and colleges across the country have already completed necessary preparation ahead of their reopening after a long time closure.
Talking to the Daily Sun, principals of a number of schools and colleges said the authorities have already cleaned classrooms and the premises of schools and colleges by removing dust and dirt.
The educational institutions have completed all preparations, including installation of facilities for washing hands and cleaning the premises and classrooms, as per the health guidelines issued by the government for reopening the institutions.
The guidelines issued by both the bodies said students, teachers, staff and other concerned must wear masks in schools and colleges as part of health safety measures.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Farhad Hossain, principal of Monipur High School and College, said, “We’ve completed all necessary preparations to reopen our institution. We are now waiting for the government notification of the reopening.”
About the preparation, he said, “We’ve set up disinfection tunnels at all of our campuses and are installing wash blocks or facilities for washing hands.”
“Students will be allowed to enter the campuses only after wearing masks and washing hands,” the principal said, adding that they will also keep a medical team and an isolation centre ready in each of the branches.
On March 17, 2020, the government closed all educational institutions to check the spread of coronavirus. The closure -- recently extended till September 11 -- has led to cancellation of exams and left academic calendars in disarray.
The government, however, broadcast classes through Sangsad Television for secondary and primary students. Later, it asked all schools to introduce online education to meet losses of the students.