The Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) has kept open over 5,400 primary schools in haor areas to accommodate labourers harvesting paddy.
Officials said doors of around 5,041 primary schools in four districts of Sylhet division and another 400 in Kishoreganj and 16 in Netrakona are open to the labourers.
Farmers grow paddy on the low-lying wetlands in those districts only once a year. But flashfloods during this period of the year damage crops at times.
Meanwhile, only about 10 percent of paddy harvesting was done in Sylhet division until Sunday, according to an estimate of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in the division.
Farmers have been complaining about a shortage of harvesting workers due to the nationwide Covid-19 shutdown.
AKM Shafayet Alam, DPE deputy director in Sylhet division, said they were ready to accommodate labourers at all schools in haor areas.
He said they took the decision following an order by Primary and Mass Education Secretary Akram-Al-Hossain.
Shafayet said early rainfall coupled with possible flash floods, forecasted by the Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre of Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), was another reason for keeping the schools open to workers.
On April 13, the BWDB forecasted that flash floods might hit the haor areas of Sunamganj and Sylhet as India’s meteorological department predicted excessive rainfall in its bordering areas and in the north-eastern part of Bangladesh.
Taking the forecast in consideration, district officials issued a notice asking farmers to harvest boro paddy as soon as possible.
In a move to slow down the spread of coronavirus, the government initially closed all educational institutions from March 17-31. Later, the closure was extended to April 25.
The closure till April 25 means schools and colleges will remain shut until May 31 as they would have holidays for the Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr, if the government does not cancel or cut those.
District primary education officers in Kishoreganj and Netrakona said they instructed all teachers to talk to farmers and local public representatives to inform them that they could accommodate harvesting labourers at schools.
Speaking to The Daily Star on Sunday, DAE Additional Director (Sylhet division) Srinibas Debnath said paddy was cultivated on 474,195 hectares of land in the division this year.
The boro harvest season began last week and it would probably continue until the first week of next month, he added.