Schools may reopen 'if they can follow rules'

Schools may reopen 'if they can follow rules'

Door opens for term start before July 1

Schools wanting to open before July 1 will be examined on a case-by-case basis whether they can adhere to sanitary and health guidelines set by the government.

If schools think they can, they might be open before July 1, according to the Education Ministry.

Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan said schools nationwide are obliged to follow health measures approved by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) in order to resume classes in July.

The CCSA will not allow schools to reopen if it believes they cannot make classes safe for students.

Measures, drawn up by the Health and Education ministries, include temperature screening before entering schools, the wearing of face masks and having enough hand-washing facilities with soap or alcohol gel.

Social distancing, which will limit the number of students per class to between 20 and 25, as well as frequent cleaning of school premises are also required. Activities requiring physical contact are still banned.

A member of staff at Or-ngern School in Bangkok's Sai Mai district cleans student cubicles before the school opens on Monday. Plastic see-through partitions have been installed on tables in the cafeteria to keep students distanced from one another. (Photo by Nutthawat Wicheanbut)

Mr Nataphol said the CCSA will circulate the health and safety criteria to all schools nationwide so that they can assess whether they can follow and stick to them. He said if schools find the criteria problematic they can propose alternative measures.

Each school committee should decide whether they can comply with the guidelines and then inform the ministry that they are ready to reopen. The ministry will later make an assessment and seek CCSA permission to reopen.

The CCSA has recently allowed the Office of the Basic Education Commission to hold exams for student admission into secondary schools on June 6-7.

Dr Anupong Suchariyakul from the Department of Disease Control has advised schools to immediately separate any children who fall ill so as not to spread any illnesses that could force the closure of the school. Schools should also be able to trace the source of an illness if possible.

Meanwhile, fears are growing that up to 500,000 graduates will struggle to find employment as a result of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mr Nataphol.

He said he feared the Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation and Education ministries would only be able to help some of them, without giving details.

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