Government mulling resumption of in-person academic activities when Covid-19 infection rate drops below 5%
All secondary and higher secondary level educational institutions of the country will remain closed until May 29, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Education Minister in a statement on Saturday said that the decision to extend the closure was taken considering the safety of students, teachers, institution employees and guardians.
It also said that the decision was made in coordination with the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19.
The statement added that all online academic activities of all schools and colleges will continue until May 29.
In mid-March last year, the government had closed all educational institutions in a bid to tackle the pandemic. The closure was extended in several phases while online schooling took off.
Earlier on Saturday, Deputy Minister for Education Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury had told reporters that the government has decided to not reopen the institutions from May 23 as planned before, as the nationwide restrictions on public movement and gathering are going to be extended again from Monday.
The Education Ministry is determined to keep the institutions closed until the infection rate reaches or drops below 5%, according to media reports.
All schools and colleges were scheduled to reopen on May 23 and the universities the next day.
Infection rate must be below 5%
The chief of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE), Prof Syed Md Golam Faruk, too, said that the institutions will be reopened once the infection rate drops to 5% or lower, reports Bangla Tribune.
“We had previously planned the same move when the infection rate had dropped below the 5% mark,” he said.
Faruk added that the shortened syllabuses of SSC and HSC candidates will be completed when the Covid-19 crisis comes under control.
The DSHE director general also said that in-person classes will be held for different grades on separate days of the week when the situation gets normal.
On April 29, a directive was issued for conducting online classes under the cluster system for the 2021 academic year, and also for launching online schooling for the next academic sessions.
The next day, the Directorate of Primary Education issued a circular to implement an interim study plan designed by the National Academy for Primary Education.
The directorate on May 12 also ordered the officials concerned to monitor whether the online classes were being held properly.
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Fear of Covid surge
Mentionable, a study revealed that some 19% of primary and 25% of secondary school-going children are at risk of learning loss as educational institutions in the country have remained shut since March last year due to the pandemic.
The government and experts are fearing a further rise of Covid-19 cases due to the mad rush of Eid holidaymakers going to village homes, who are also likely to return in large numbers to the cities when the vacation ends.
Added to their fear is the detection of the deadly Indian variant of the coronavirus on April 8.
The deadly virus till Saturday morning killed 12,124 people in Bangladesh. The country also logged 779,796 cases since it confirmed the first Covid-19 patients on March 8, 2020.
Under the circumstances, the government is all set to issue a gazette notification on Sunday, extending the ongoing restrictions on public movement - which were imposed last month -- for another week.
On March 25 this year, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni said all schools and colleges in the country would reopen after Eid-ul-Fitr on May 23 in light of the surge in Covid-19 cases and deaths at that time.
Prior to that, the government in late February announced resuming academic activities at all universities – public and private – from May 24.
It then also decided to reopen the student dormitories of public universities on May 17.