Schools starting to reopen at long last
We wholeheartedly welcome the resumption of in-person classes at schools all over the country in phases starting Sunday. After a hiatus of almost a year and a half since the pandemic began, it is reassuring to know that students will finally be able to return to their classrooms. This is a step in the right direction if our goal is to recover the learning loss students suffered during the pandemic and to try to regain some semblance of normalcy.
As per the current plan, HSC and SSC candidates for 2021 and 2022, and PECE candidates for 2021 will attend classes every day. Students of classes 1 to 4 and 6 to 9 will be attending classes in person once a week and primary school students will attend at most three classes a day.
Though this decision from the government could have come much earlier—given that most other commercial, social, and economic activities went on relatively normally in-between lockdowns—we are pleased that it is finally happening.
However, it is crucial that health and safety precautions are practiced vigilantly by school staff and students. Even though the rate of Covid-19 infections has lowered significantly from what it was a couple months ago during the peak of the second wave in the country, the threat of a surge still remains. We commend the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) for issuing an order stating the responsibilities of all stakeholders in reopening schools amid the pandemic. Such directives as keeping schools shut in areas the government deems to be "red zones", ensuring mask-wearing and social distancing, and allowing only two students to sit on each long bench in a classroom will go a long way in ensuring the safe reopening of schools.
Besides this, though, we also hope that all school premises have been thoroughly cleaned and that authorities have actively tried to keep their schools free from Aedes mosquito larvae, given the disturbing rise in dengue cases nationwide. Children may be less affected than adults when it comes to Covid-19, but the same cannot be said for the prevalent dengue virus strain, which has infected over 2,000 people in the first week of this month alone.
We hope the reopening of schools will go smoothly and that the government and relevant authorities already have plans in mind for any potential crisis that may arise. It is reassuring to know that many students who were deprived of education due to not having proper access to digital learning resources will again be able to study in a familiar and supportive learning environment. That said, we would urge school and college authorities to prioritise the safety of students and staff at every step of each reopening phase.