Writ petition filed with the High Court seeking directives to close all educational institutions
As the school hour was about to end on Wednesday, a student's mother began collecting signatures on a piece of paper.
It was an application requesting the authorities of Tiny Tots, a junior school in Dhanmondi, to close it to prevent coronavirus infection among students.
Many guardians, waiting at the school gate, signed the application promptly and began conversing on why they feared a rapid spread of the infectious disease in the country.
Some of them stopped sending their children to the school from the next day.
Others waited for an announcement for the closure of the school on Thursday but as the school authorities did not make any such announcement, they decided not to take their children to the school after the weekend.
Asked over the phone, the school administration said they were yet to make a decision in this regard.
Meanwhile, the management of the Mohammadpur branch of the same school sent a notice to parents through its mobile application, saying, "Due to the threat of coronavirus, please use your decision while sending your child to school. Your child will not be penalised if s/he misses the school."
A guardian named Shakila Yasmin had already stopped sending her two children to the school before getting the notice.
"I don't bother about the notice because I cannot afford to watch my children suffer," she said while sharing her views with other guardians through a social media private group.
Teachers of Motijheel Government Primary School and Rajuk Uttara Model School and College said about 20 to 40 percent students have been absent since last week.
Another parent, Aziz Hashan, has not sent his son, a student of playgroup at AG Church School in the capital's Eskaton, to school for the last one week.
He said a majority of the students were not attending classes after the government confirmed the maiden cases of the novel coronavirus in the country. The school authorities said they were waiting for a decision from the government.
"When schools of all coronavirus-hit countries, including schools in West Bengal of India, have been kept shut, we should think twice about keeping our educational institutions open," Aziz said.
Marium Senjuti has not been sending her college-going daughter to Ispahani Girls School and College since Thursday last.
"Until the situation improves, I am not sending my daughter to the college…I expected the institutions would have shut down by now," she said.
Meanwhile, students of Dhaka University and Rajshahi University demanded suspension of academic activities fearing spread of the coronavirus.
First-year students, a majority of whom live in residential halls at Dhaka University, gathered in front of the Raju Memorial Sculpture yesterday to voice their concerns.
They said medical camps should be set up on the campus immediately to test people for coronavirus.
Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Md Akhtaruzzaman said he had called an emergency meeting with deans of all faculties, department chairs, directors and hall provosts yesterday morning to decide the next move.
The pressure is mounting on the authorities for the closure of the university. Last evening, a proctor urged five students to call off a hunger strike at the Raju Memorial Sculpture.
At Rajshahi University, students gathered in front of the Senate Bhaban yesterday morning to press home their demand for closing the university.
Students of both the universities expressed concerns that coronavirus would spread easily in classrooms and residential halls.
Many students use public transports to commute to and from the university, which might lead to further spread of the virus, they added.
Prof Mijanur Rahman, vice-chancellor of Jagannath University, insisted that closing down of a few institutions would not help contain the virus.
"There are families who have children going to different institutions.
"We are looking forward to a decision from the national monitoring cell."