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However, businessman Rubel urged the school authorities concerned to ensure the safety measures appropriately to curb the fear of coronavirus transmission. Alongside this, he requested teachers to make the classes joyous for the students.

The educational institutions are going to reopen from Sunday after the closure of around 18 months due to coronavirus pandemic. Like Arafat Rubel, majority of the guardians has lauded the government decision of reopening educational institutions.

But they want the implementation of 19-point health guideline set by the government to check the Covid-19 infection in the educational institutions.

The heads of the educational institutions said, they are preparing for reopening in line with the health guidelines. Though some teachers said, it will be challenging for them to implement the 19-point direction fully.

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A public health expert has suggested facilitating the test of Covid-19 for the teachers, students and guardians to diagnose the symptoms if develops.

The government has some plans if the infection spikes again after reopening the educational institutions.

Following an inter-ministerial meeting at the cabinet division on 5 September, the education minister Dipu Moni said if the Covid-19 transmission goes up in any educational institution, then that institution will be shut down immediately.

Similarly, the health minister Zahid Maleque on Friday said, the health ministry will recommend shutting down the educational institutions once again if the Covid-19 transmission rate spikes.

He said this on Friday while visiting the government Titumir College, a center of the dental admission test.

“If the infection rate spikes alarmingly yet again, then the education ministry will take the decision of closing educational institutions. We would suggest the same. We don't want our children to be infected with Covid-19,” the minister added.

All educational institutions have been closed since 17 March last year following the detection of first coronavirus patient on 8 March. After the closure of over one and a half year, on 5 September, the government announced their decision to reopen the educational institutions with limited number of in-person classes for the time being.

As per the government decision, the students of SSC, HSC and primary education completion (PEC) level will attend the classes in-persons every day while the students of other classes would join classes once a week. However, the in-person class in pre-primary level will remain closed for the time being.

Opinions of the guardians 

Requesting not to be named, a mother of sixth grader—studying at Darland International School in Dhaka—told Prothom Alo that she hasn’t seen any problem to reopen educational institutions if the health guidelines are maintained.

Aminul Islam, a guardian of two daughters who are studying at Ispahani Girls' School and College in the capital’s Moghbazar, opined that there will be no problem if the classes are conducted in line with the safety measures.

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Akhi Khanam, mother of Eshika Rahman who is studying at Binapani government high school in Gopaljganj, told Prothom Alo that everything has been opened now. Sometimes, her daughter has to go to the school for submitting assignment. So she is in favour of reopening school.

However, some English medium schools in the capital will retain both types of learning facilities: in-person and distance. These schools said if the guardians are not allowed their children to attend the classroom physically, then they could join the class virtually from home.

Nurun Nahar Majumder, the head of Scholastica in Mirpur campus, told Prothom Alo that they can’t start taking in-person class from this week. After taking precautionary measures, they will announce the dates of reopening school by this week.

Eight guidelines for guardians 

The Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) on last Thursday issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) with 63-point health guideline for teachers, guardians, students, institution governing committees and the officials in the field level. Of them, the guardians have to follow the eight guidelines.

These include sending student to the educational institutions with wearing mask, encouraging them to attend in-person class, making them aware about health, ensuring to send them to the school and to return home in time, informing the head of educational institutions immediately if anyone of the family gets infected with Covid-19, following the guidelines of institution and sending students to the school with just water and asked them not to eat any food from outside.

Three classes per day for fifth graders 

As per the routine, three classes will be held each day in class V. The in-person class of fourth grader will be held on Saturday while third grader class on Sunday, second grade on Monday and first grader on Tuesday.

The directorate of primary education has stressed on Bengali, English and Mathematics in the routine, which will continue up to 30 September.

‘Need to facilitate the Covid-19 test’ 

Adviser to the IEDCR physician M Mushtaq Hussain said it is required to arrange isolation and quarantine facilities for the Covid infected teachers, students, guardians and the officials and those who will contact with them.

He told Prothom Alo that it is right decision to reopen the educational institutions now.

"However, we will have to maintain the health guidelines. It is also needed to ensure the Covid-19 testing facility for the teachers, students and the guardians to diagnose the symptoms if develops," Mushtaq Hussain suggested.

*This report, originally published in Prothom Alo print and online editions, has been rewritten in English by NH Sajjad.

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