After nearly 18 months, primary, secondary and higher secondary schools in Bangladesh are all set to reopen gradually from September 12 with a slew of Covid-safety protocols in place.
The decision to resume classroom teaching was taken by the Bangladesh government earlier this month in view of the improving Covid-19 situation in the country.
School authorities are gearing up to welcome students to classrooms, following prolonged closure since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.
Apart from ensuring thorough sanitisation of the school premises, many teachers have already put out the class routine and other directives for the students online.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni has already said that the country's educational institutions will be ready to host students by September 9, before finally reopening three days later.
"Ministry officials will complete field inspections by September 9 to observe whether the institutions are fully prepared to open their doors for students," she said, after an inter-ministerial meeting at the cabinet division on September 5.
The decision to reopen all the primary, secondary and higher secondary-level educational institutions from September 12 was finalised at the meeting.
After the reopening, the SSC and HSC examinees of 2020-2021, and the students of fifth standard will attend classes regularly while the students of grades 1-4 and 6-9 will attend classes once a week initially, Dipu Moni had said. "Later, all the classes will be held regularly."
Regarding the reopening of universities, the minister then said that there would be a meeting with the syndicate committees of the universities for possible reopening in October "as there is a vaccination issue".
Earlier, on August 26, the government extended the closure of secondary and higher secondary-level educational institutions till September 11.
The government shut the educational institutions on March 17, 2020, after the country reported its first Covid-19 cases on March 8 and later the closure was extended several times.
The pandemic-related school closures in the country affected about 38 million students though the government introduced TV-based learning programmes for them.
Preparations for reopening
On September 2, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said that the government was taking measures to reopen educational institutions across the country soon.
"We've been able to control the coronavirus to a large extent. There's no more problem regarding vaccines… I've already directed (the authorities concerned) to reopen schools and colleges soon," she told Parliament.
Hasina also said that teachers had already been vaccinated and "now steps are underway to vaccinate other staff of the educational institutions".
"Since there are some WHO guidelines for school students, we're taking measures to vaccinate the students following the guidelines."
Meanwhile, the education authorities have issued guidelines as part of preparations to reopen the schools.
The teachers of primary schools have been instructed to return to their workplaces.
The Primary Education Directorate asked the upazila education officers to inspect the schools under their jurisdiction within a week.
Besides, it gave instructions to keep the institutions neat and clean, taking utmost care to prevent dengue.
The primary school authorities have been instructed to prepare their wash blocks accordingly.
Besides, the Directorate of Secondary & Higher Education (DSHE) has asked the regional directors to make necessary preparations to reopen the schools and colleges in Bangladesh.
According to sources at the Education Ministry, most teachers and staffers of the educational institutions have been vaccinated.
Sources at the University Grants Commission claimed that around 80% students of Dhaka University got their Covid jabs.
Covid situation in the country
Bangladesh logged 38 more Covid-19 deaths and 2,325 cases in 24 hours till Friday morning, showing a further decline in single-day fatalities and cases.
The country reported 58 Covid-related deaths and 2,588 cases on Thursday, indicating a slight increase in both cases and fatalities.
But the daily case positivity rate dropped a bit to 8.65 percent from Thursday's 8.76 percent suggesting that the pandemic may be easing in Bangladesh.
The fresh numbers pushed the country's total fatalities to 26,832 while the cases reached 15,27,215, according to DGHS.
The country last saw 54 coronavirus-related deaths on June 18 and the upswing in the fatalities reached its peak on August 5 and 10 when 264 deaths were recorded.
However, the situation was much more catastrophic than June and the latter part of August as the country experienced a surge in Covid-related caseloads and deaths during that time.