As much as 80% attendance across the country
Most students were elated to return to schools and colleges after 18 months of confinement at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic on Sunday.
Visits to several schools and colleges in Dhaka found them all in a festive mood, with students, guardians, teachers, and even street food vendors delighted with the return to a semblance of normalcy. Covid-19 health guidelines were in effect, but they did not dampen the atmosphere.
Some schools welcomed back students with flowers, chocolate, and even live music. Many students said they were growing depressed and failing to engage with online classes, so the return to classrooms was like a breath of fresh air.
Guardians were happy to see their children enjoying themselves, but they were also worried about the risk of Covid-19 transmission as the children are yet to be vaccinated. Although the guardians were allowed to drop their children off at school, they were not allowed to enter the premises.
“I was excited and preparing my books, bag, and uniform since [Saturday]. I could barely sleep,” said Sumayia Tabassum Hridi, a student at Savar Laboratory School.
“We are glad to be back, and now we are waiting for regular classes like before,” said Jahina Akhter Liza, another student.
Others echoed that they were growing weary of wearing masks, but returning to classrooms was still better than staying at home.
However, several guardians were seen neither wearing masks nor maintaining social distancing outside the campus.
Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) Director Belal Hossain said the environment at classrooms was satisfactory on the first day. “Instructions have been followed properly. We visited seven to eight schools and colleges [on Sunday].”
He added that there was 100% attendance at St Joseph Higher Secondary School, and almost 100% attendance at Dhanmondi Government Boys School and Mohammadpur Preparatory School in Dhaka.
The DSHE director further said there was yet to be any reports of illness among the students.
DSHE Director General Golam Faruq told Dhaka Tribune more than 80% attendance was recorded at schools across the country on reopening day.
Rahima Akter, head teacher of Government Science High School, said: "We as well as the students are very happy. Students entered school at 6:30am and the attendance rate was too good. The children who used to misbehave were also very attentive.
"We are trying to maintain the health guidelines strictly," she added.
MA Halim Patwary, director of Ideal Commerce College, said they distributed masks to all the students for free and declared them part of the uniform.
"[On Sunday], we discussed with the students how we can say goodbye to Covid-19 and tried to follow all 19 points of the guidelines accurately," he said.
He also said that they told students to maintain health guidelines so that the government does not need to close educational institutions again.
Children’s mobile phone addiction
Parents said they were very worried about the mental health of their children, who were becoming addicted to their mobile phones while confined at home.
They also said many students struggled to follow online classes.
Shaila Hossain, the guardian of a student, said: "My child was getting frustrated staying home day after day, and that's why I think it is important to keep the school open every day instead of every two days."
Shahnaz Parvin, another guardian, said: “My children had forgotten that they have to study. It was growing difficult to control them at home.”
Asonta Costa, mother of another student, said she was surprised to find that her son had set the alarm for school himself, when he was previously unenthusiastic about studies.
In March 2020, the government declared the closure of educational institutions across the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The school closure in the country was the second longest in the world.