Government will not reopen schools amid Covid wave
Unicef and Unesco yesterday urged decision-makers and governments around the world to prioritize the safe reopening of schools in order to avoid a “generational catastrophe”.
Asked about his response, Deputy Education Minister Mohibul Hassan Chowdhury said the government was ready to reopen educational institutions. “But we cannot reopen schools, colleges and universities at this time due to the high transmission rate of the coronavirus.”
The government is working to find out how educational institutions can reopen as soon as possible, he said.
“Any decision regarding the reopening of schools will only be made after consultation with the National Technical Advisory Committee on Covid-19 and other stakeholders.”
The government has made significant progress towards reopening schools as 65% of secondary teachers and about the same percentage of primary teachers have already been vaccinated.
“We hope that 80 to 90 percent of teachers will be vaccinated soon. Many university professors have been vaccinated and university resident students are receiving the vaccine. This is a big step towards reopening.”
The government currently does not have a plan to vaccinate students under the age of 18.
The deputy minister made the remarks hours after Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore and Unesco Director General Audrey Azoulay issued a joint statement yesterday morning.
The statement was released ahead of the global education meeting scheduled for today.
The statement read: “This should not continue. Schools should be the last to close and the first to reopen.”
The education of millions of children has been disrupted since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic. As of yesterday, schools have been closed in 19 countries, affecting more than 156 million students.
In their efforts to limit transmission, governments have too often closed schools and kept them closed for prolonged periods, even when the epidemiological situation did not warrant it.
These actions have often been taken as a first resort rather than a last measure. In many cases, schools have been closed while bars and restaurants have remained open, the statement said.
They said the losses children and young people would suffer as a result of their absence from school may never be recouped. Whether it is loss of learning, mental distress, exposure to violence and abuse, missed school meals and vaccinations, or reduced development of social skills, the consequences for children will be felt. on their academic success and their societal commitment as well as on their physical and mental health.
Those most affected are often children from low-resource backgrounds who do not have access to distance learning tools, and younger people who are at key developmental stages.
“The losses for parents and caregivers are just as heavy. Keeping children at home is forcing parents around the world to quit their jobs, especially in countries with limited or no family leave policies.
“This is why reopening schools for in-person learning cannot wait,” they said.
“He can’t wait for the number of cases to drop to zero. It is clear that elementary and secondary schools are not among the primary drivers of transmission.
“Reopening schools cannot wait until all teachers and students are immunized. With the global vaccine shortage plaguing low- and middle-income countries, immunization of frontline workers and those most at risk of serious illness and death will remain a priority. “
In Bangladesh, the education of around four million students has been affected by the Covid-induced shutdown since March 17 last year.
In February of this year, the government announced that all schools and colleges would gradually reopen on March 30. As more and more new cases of Covid-19 were detected, they postponed the plan to reopen until May 23.
As the infection rate rose again, the government extended the shutdown until July 31.
According to officials, the reopening of schools will be phased. The Department of Education plans to run in-person classes for 2021 and 2022 SSC and HSC applicants six days a week.
Pupils in grades 6 to 9 will have to go to school once a week. The number of lessons will be increased depending on the situation.