Covid-19: School bells ring in Bangladesh after 543-day-long break

Students attend their class at the Rajuk Uttara Model College in Dhaka on September 12, 2021, as Bangladesh schools reopened after 18 months in one of the world's longest shutdowns due to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. (AFP photo) (AFP)

School bells rang after a hiatus of 543 days in Bangladesh on Sunday, as tens of thousands of students returned to classes, amid an ease in the coronavirus situation in the country and the vaccination programme picking up pace.

News channels aired footages of students in school uniform entering campuses with broad smiles, visible despite masks. Many reached their classes many hours in advance as excitement among students was palpable.

In many schools, teachers welcomed their pupils with flowers and chocolates. Guardians were barred from entry in the campuses as precaution against overcrowding and infection-spread.

Education Minister Dipu Moni has warned against any lax enforcement of safety measures, while authorities earlier said every class will convene only once a week initially, while schools are to strictly maintain the health guidelines.

"If it appears that the infections were reappearing, the government may decide to re-introduce online classes," she told newsmen after visiting a school in the capital's Azimpur area.

Bangladesh closed schools on March 17, 2020 after the coronavirus began to spread in the country, which has one of the highest population densities in the world.

Authorities decided to reopen the education institutes after almost 97 per cent of the teachers and staff were vaccinated.

The reopening comes as daily death counts and positive cases eased in recent weeks. In the past one week, 55 people have died due to COVID-19. This is in comparison to late July this year, when on an average 250 deaths were being reported daily.

The coronavirus has so far killed 26,880 people in Bangladesh, along with more than 1.5 million cases, according to official data.


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