On the eve of schools reopening in Bangladesh after almost 18 months, the head of the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) has announced that students returning to school from Sunday will not be allowed to consume their tiffin or any food on the school premises, as part of the safety protocols that are being carefully stipulated ahead of the doors opening tomorrow morning.
"Students won't be able to have their tiffin on school premises," said Dr. Syed Md. Golam Faruk, who serves as Director-General of DSHE. "The institutions will only allow drinking water."
Dr Faruk was responding to reporters' questions after inaugurating the Sylhet Government Women's College's Guardian Camp on Saturday (September 11th) morning.
During this time he also requested the parents to avoid gathering at the school premises unnecessarily, for the sake of social distancing.
The DG-DSHE also urged them (guardians) to not send their kids to school, in case there is any reason to suspect they (the children) may have been exposed to the virus by anyone in the family or otherwise.
All teachers across the country have been instructed to ensure that students wear masks and practise social distancing.
After witnessing what UNICEF have recorded as the world's second-longest schools closure due to the pandemic, primary, secondary and higher secondary schools in Bangladesh are all set to reopen gradually from September 12 (Sunday), albeit with a slew of Covid-safety protocols in place.
The decision to resume in-person 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 routines and other directives for the students online.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni on Saturday continued to hold open the possibility of shuttering the schools once again, depending on the transmission of the virus. "The schools may be shut again if Coronavirus cases go up," she said.
The education minister was talking to local journalists at Jamalpur Circuit House, where she was to join the triennial conference of the district Awami League.
"Educational institutions are going to reopen after a long 17-month closure. All the health protocols will be maintained in the classrooms of all educational institutions. In the case of a widespread rise in infections, we'll take necessary measures and those will be closed again, if required," she said.