announcement, the government has now extended school closure, among other restrictions, until February 21, making the already unjustifiable suspension earlier of on-premises classes for an additional two weeks.

There is now no shortage of evidence that caution and pandemic management do not equal blanket suspension of classes, particularly when everything else is open. This makes even less sense given that the two-million odd students of the National University and seven colleges affiliated to Dhaka University will be allowed to attend in-person examinations during this period.

The decision defies logic and dangerously disregards evidence. The dire warning by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) — that interruption to education in the South Asian countries will have serious repercussions lasting decades – – seem to have been treated with absolute callousness.

Bangladesh, like all other countries in the world, will have to contend with the ongoing pandemic. But it is clearer than ever that new variants will continue to emerge. It is also clear that blanket shutdowns are no longer viable, particularly so when it is a question of disruption in school education that will inevitably impact future generations adversely.

What could be the rationale for extending school closures when banks, corporate offices, factories, markets, and malls are open? Moreover, Omicron cases have now been universally recognized as milder and there has been no significant rise in hospitalization in Bangladesh.

Add to that the ongoing vaccination drive — also recognized widely to be greatly aiding Covid management — there are now more reasons for keeping schools open, not closed.

 

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