Staff Correspondent : All the schools and colleges are reopening today after one and a half years of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Amid the pandemic, the authorities of the educational institutions have already completed all necessary preparations for reopening of the schools and colleges following the health guidelines.
The educational institutions are reopening at a time when several hundred schools and colleges have been flooded in some parts of the country.
Besides, furniture of many schools and colleges has been damaged due to the prolonged closure but the educational institutions are reopening without fixing the furniture.
Meanwhile, experts have expressed their concerns over maintaining health guidelines at the schools and colleges, saying that there is no specific monitoring system to ensure the safety of students.
On the first day of reopening, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni on Sunday will visit Azimpur Govt. Girls School and College in Dhaka at 10:00am to see the overall activities. Later, she will also visit ‘Lake Circus Girls High School’ in Kalabagan.
Following a significant fall in the Covid-19 daily positivity rate, the government took the decision at an inter-ministerial meeting on September 5 to reopen the schools and colleges from today, allowing students to attend in-person classes.
As per the decision, the examinees of this year’s four public examinations, including Secondary School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC), would attend classes every day at first after the reopening.
Students of other classes would have in-person classes once every week. The number of the class days would be increased depending on the pandemic situation.
The government has plans to hold SSC and equivalent exams in the second week of November while HSC and its equivalent tests in the first week of December.
However, the government will also keep the option of online classes functional as it wants to adopt a new ‘hybrid education learning system’ combining in-person classes and online education.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni on Saturday told journalists at Jamalpur Circuit House that the educational institutions would be closed again if the Covid-19 infections increase in the country.
She said, “Educational institutions are reopening after a long 17-month closure. Teaching will be done in the classroom following all types of hygiene rules. Even then, if there is a risk of infection, all necessary measures will be taken. If the educational institution has to be closed, we will not hesitate to do so.”
She also urged the guardians of the students to be cautious and follow health guidelines as well saying that “If any student or their family members show symptoms at home, then that student must not be sent to the educational institution.”
The Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) on Friday issued an order, asking the field level officials to inform school teachers about the class routine of primary schools.
The DPE in the order recommended holding three classes a day for each grade. It also asked teachers to make sure that only two students sit on each large bench to ensure social distancing in the classroom.
Candidates of Primary Education Completion (PEC) Examination, for students near the end of their fifth year in primary school, will attend class everyday while students of grade 1 to 4 will join classes once a week.
According to the class routine, the grade-I students will attend classes on Tuesday, grade-II on Monday, grade-III on Sunday and grade-IV on Saturday. A 10-minute briefing on Covid awareness will take place every day at the onset of the day’s educational activities.
The DPE also issued another order stipulating responsibilities of field level officials, headmasters, teachers, guardians as well as students over running school activities amid the pandemic.
It asked teachers to keep the school shut in any areas that the government would declare a “red zone” considering Covid infection rate. The authorities will have to ensure all students, teachers and staff wear masks and maintain physical distancing in the classroom.
The DPE asked the authorities to take steps so that there is no crowding on the school premises, and only two students sit on each bench of a classroom.
It also asked teachers to allow students at the schools after checking students’ body temperatures and ensuring handwashing facilities and cleanliness of the campus.
On the other hand, following advice of the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19, the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) formulated a standard operating procedure (SOP) for conducting the educational activities after the reopening.
The DSHE on September 9 sent the SOP to all the schools and colleges, asking them to follow the SOP during operating of the institutions amid the pandemic.
In the SOP, the DSHE gave 14-point directives to the heads of the school-college, eight-point directives to teachers, eight-point instruction to students and eight-point directives to guardians and five-point instruction to governing body or managing committee.
The DSHE in the SOP also gave six-point directives to upazila secondary education officers, seven-point instruction to district education officer, three-point and four-point directives to the regional deputy director and director respectively.
The DSHE in another order asked authorities of all educational institutions to reopen hostels ensuring enforcement of Covid-19 health safety protocols and keeping in mind the dengue fever situation.
The government also decided to allow in-person activities at the medical colleges and nursing institutes from tomorrow (September 13) in phases.
Earlier, there was a decision to reopen the universities from October 17. Later, the education minister said they can resume in-person academic activities from September 12 but the universities would make the final decision in this regard.
Farhad Hossain, principal of Monipur High School and College, said, “We’ve completed all necessary preparations to reopen our school and colleges.”
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.
Educational institutions were closed across the country on March 17 last year to curb the spread of Covid-19. The closure led to cancellation of classes and examinations, throwing the academic life of more than four crore students of around 1.5 lakh educational institutions in disarray.