Bangladesh reopens schools amid scorching heatwave

By Ruma Paul

DHAKA (Reuters) - Schools in Bangladesh reopened on Sunday despite a heatwave continuing to sweep the South Asian nation, with temperatures expected to climb above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the days ahead, according to the weather department.

Schools that had closed last week reopened on what is the first day of the week in Bangladesh, despite the latest 72-hour heat alert being extended until April 30.

Due to the recent holidays to mark Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, students received extended leave, including for the heat alert, leading schools to worry about students' preparations for year-end exams.

"Our academic activities are being hampered due to this long break including Ramadan and Eid holidays. This is the time for academic studies for final exams at the end of the year," Bornali Hossain, principal of Meherunnesa Girls' School, told Reuters Television.

"We will try our best to catch up till the government provides the next directive."

Daily assemblies will not be held until further notice, and the portion of class activities held outside the classroom and exposed to sunlight will be limited, the education ministry said.

Parents still worried about the health of their children, however.

"The weather is unbearable. What will happen if my daughter gets sick?" asked Sumana Ahmed, the mother of a six-year-old.

Scientists say climate change is contributing to more frequent, severe and longer heatwaves during the summer months.

The authorities have been encouraging residents to stay indoors and drink water.

"My home is far. My younger daughter's class breaks early, but the elder one is still in school. Both of our two-way journeys by buses are tiresome due to the unbearable heatwave," said Kamrun Nahar, a mother of two students.

(Reporting by Ruma Paul)