Regular classes for SSC, HSC examinees, while primary and secondary school students will initially attend once a week
The authorities have taken all-out preparations to resume in-person classes and examinations at schools, colleges and other equivalent institutions while maintaining special health guidelines from Sunday, government officials said on Friday.
The government has issued 16 guidelines and a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the school reopening, focusing on health protocols to avoid Covid-19 transmission among the students.
The guidelines emphasized using masks, ensuring social distancing, and being vigilant for Covid-19 symptoms in teachers, students, and staff.
The government has also decided to isolate anyone suspected of having Covid-19 for 14 days. They will not be counted as absent.
If any students begin to show symptoms, the guardians have been asked to inform the head of the educational institution and keep the student in-home quarantine.
Health Minister Zahid Maleque said the health authorities may recommend closing schools again if there is a spike in coronavirus infections in the country again.
Bangladesh is trying to secure clearance from the World Health Organisation to vaccinate under-18s, he said, adding that WHO is yet to provide any directive on when school-going children can be inoculated.
“Children of this age have been vaccinated in only a few countries on a trial basis,” Maleque said while visiting a centre for a dental college entry test in Dhaka.
Bangladesh plans to inoculate children aged 10-17 once the WHO clearance comes through, added the minister.
Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) Director Belal Hossain told Dhaka Tribune students and staff members would not be forced to be present at their institution if they are infected with Covid-19. They just need to submit a medical certificate and absences will not be counted.
Reports on the Covid situations at schools and colleges will be sent to the ministries concerned through local education authorities.
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Mahbub Hossain, secretary of the Secondary and Higher Education Division under the Ministry of Education, said there will be zero tolerance for breaches of health guidelines and all activities will be brought under central monitoring.
“From the first day, a maximum of three hours of daily lessons will be given to the students,” said Alamgir Mohammed Monsurul Alam, director-general of the Directorate of Primary Education.
Students are eagerly waiting to meet with their friends and teachers after over a year and teachers are prepared to receive them, but they are worried about Covid-19 infections despite all the preparations.
Sultana Kawser, an SSC candidate at Khulna Girls’ School, said she is excited to resume classes again.
“The online classes help, but they can never replace classes in-person. Now it feels like we are students,” she said.
Principal of Viqarunnisa Noon School & College Kamrun Nahar said: "We will receive students following health guidelines so that none of them gets infected at the school and can continue class properly."
All educational institutions--except universities--are all set to reopen in phases from September 12.
After reopening, SSC and HSC examinees of the 2020-2021 session and PEC examinees will attend classes regularly and the students of grades 1-4 and 6-9 will initially attend classes once every week.
The government closed educational institutions across the country in mid-March last year, after the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure was extended several times.