The government has yet again extended the closure of all educational institutions, now till 28 February, across the country, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Qawmi madrasas, however, will not be under the purview of this decision, the education ministry said in a media release on Sunday.
The government shut all educational institutions on 17 March last year in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, to contain mass infections. The ministry is now planning to reopen schools and colleges fully from March.
Prof Syed Golam Faruk, director general of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education, told The Business Standard, "The novel coronavirus situation is improving day by day and in-person academic activities may be resumed from March."
"The situation seems to be improving. We hope that we can resume classes from March," he said, adding that the final decision on reopening schools would be made after consulting health experts.
Health experts think the government can take measures to reopen educational institutions after the infection rate drops below 5%. The latest day's infection rate was 2.53% of the total tests, though the overall rate in the country till date was 14.05%.
Bangladesh confirmed eight more deaths from the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours till Sunday 8am. The country's death toll from the virus now stands at 8,274, said a press release issued by the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS).
In that 24-hour period, 326 people tested positive for Covid-19 and the number of novel coronavirus cases in the country now stands at 540,592 while the death rate stands at 1.53%.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, on 30 January, said educational institutions might be reopened in March or April.
"We will keep an eye on the month of February. If the virus situation improves by then, the schools and colleges will be opened on a limited scale in March or April," the premier said after announcing the HSC and its equivalent examinations results through a video conference from Ganabhaban.
On 16 March last year, the education ministry issued a press release on the government's decision to close all educational institutions and coaching centres from 18-31 March, considering students' safety amid the global pandemic.
Later, the closure was extended several times, first till 9 April, then till: 25 April, 5 May, 30 May, 6 August, 31 August, 3 October, 31 October, 14 November, 19 December, 16 January, 14 February, and now 28 February.
Classes remained suspended since schools were closed, but administrative activities have resumed gradually.
Earlier, the government also decided not to hold last year's Primary School Certificate (PSC), Junior School Certificate (JSC), Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC), and their equivalent exams due to the pandemic.
Under this move, the PSC and JSC examinees got automatic promotion to the next classes, while HSC students were assessed based on their JSC and Secondary School Certificate (SSC) results. All students from primary to secondary level were also promoted automatically.
There are about 4.5 crore students from pre-primary to higher education level, studying at around two lakh educational institutions across the country.