2020-03-15 08:12:43 BdST
Buet, DMCH students leave campuses amid coronavirus scare
Students of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) did not attend the classes on Saturday in fear of catching coronavirus.
Most of the students at Fazley Rabbi Hall at Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) also left the campus by yesterday afternoon for the same reason.
Professor Mizanur Rahman, director of the Students' Welfare at Buet, said that the students are terribly afraid of coronavirus.
"That is why they did not take part in the academic activities on Saturday. Actually we are worried too, but could not take any decision as the government has not given any direction to close the educational institutions yet."
Professor Mizanur added that since this is a national issue, if university authorities take any decision, it would definitely create panic among citizens.
Requesting anonymity, a third year student at the Chemical Engineering Department of Buet said since there are over 10,000 students at the university, there is a huge possibility of getting infected with coronavirus if students stay together.
"That is why we have decided not to attend the classes. Most of the students are also preparing to leave the halls."
A similar picture prevailed over many other educational institutions across the country yesterday.
Saleem Ahmed, associate professor and currently a part-time faculty member of Journalism and Mass Communication Department at Daffodil International University, decided to take online classes to save his students and himself from the risk of a coronavirus infection.
"I am teaching in a vulnerable situation. That is why I sought permission from my department chairman to take classes through video conferences. The university gave me permission and the students attended the classes from their homes," he said.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Chhatra Odhikar Parishad has urged the government to shut down all the educational institutions.
In a press release, its Convener Hasan al Mamud said, "Around 500 students attend classes at each educational institution across the country. Coronavirus can affect the students easily at these institutions.
"Most of the students of Dhaka University are staying at the Gono Room [large hall rooms where scores of students stay together] or in congested rooms. If anyone there gets infected by coronavirus, all the other students will be infected too."
The residential students of public universities and colleges also fear that they are exposed to the easily-transmitted virus amid poor precautionary measures by the authorities.
They expressed dissatisfaction over the lack of preparation by the administration, and said the steps by the university and dormitory authorities are limited to posting cautionary notices only.
They even failed to provide hand sanitisers to the students, leaving them vulnerable to coronavirus.
Dhaka University Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Md Akhtaruzzaman said yesterday that university asked the students, especially those who are staying in the halls, not to panic and contact their hall provost in case of any emergency.
Students of many other educational institutions skipped classes yesterday, and guardians and teachers demanded immediately shutting down educational institutions.
Md. Motiur Rahman, father of a student of Willes Little Flower School and College, asked his daughter not to go to school.
"I am very afraid that my daughter will get infected if she continues going to school. It won't matter much if my dughter does not attend school for a few days," he added.
Dr Shahan Ara Begum, principal of Motijheel Ideal School and College, sid that they have no problem if the government closes schools and colleges.
"We are waiting for the government's direction over closing the institutions," said Dr Shahan.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni said on Friday the government would not take any decision on closing the educational institutions before taking the opinions of experts.
Terming the coronavirus situation normal in Bangladesh, Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader said that the government would take the decision to close the educational institutions after considering the situation carefully.
According to Unesco, 39 countries have closed schools nationwide, and a further 22 countries have implemented localised school closures so far.
In India, West Bengal and Goa authorities yesterday shut down all schools, colleges, and private educational institutes till March 31. Earlier, Pakistan closed all educational institutions across the country on Friday for the next three weeks.
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