School reopening requires majority vaccinations, frequent tests

School reopening requires majority vaccinations, frequent tests

A teacher has an online class at Suraomai School in Suan Luang district, Bangkok, in June. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)
A teacher has an online class at Suraomai School in Suan Luang district, Bangkok, in June. (Photo: Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

The ministries of education and public health have agreed that schools in provinces heavily hit by Covid-19 can resume their on-site education when at least 85% of their staff and students have been vaccinated against the disease and all of them undergo regular antigen tests.

Announcing the agreement, Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Department of Health, said the 85% vaccination requirement would apply to school staff, teachers and students in 29 maximum and strict controlled provinces (dark-red zones) including Bangkok and nearby provinces and 37 maximum controlled provinces (red zones).

Apart from the vaccination requirement, schools in dark-red and red zones will also limit the number of their students in each class at 25. School personnel, teachers and students must pass antigen tests twice a week in dark-red zones and 1-2 tests a week in red zones.

The National Health Security Office and local authorities would support antigen test kits, Dr Suwannachai said.

In other zones, there will be only requirement for at least 85% of school personnel and teachers to receive vaccines. Antigen tests can vary on local situations.

"We all have agreed that online studying cannot continue forever. Students need to learn at school as normal because it has impacts on their interaction with peers and society and many activities cannot be organised completely online," Dr Suwannachai said.

He did not give an idea when schools could resume on-site services.

From April 1 to Sept 11, the Department of Health recorded 129,165 Covid-19 infections among children aged 6-18 and 15 of the cases died, mainly with chronic illnesses.

The numbers of cases were 2,426 in April, 6,432 in May, 6,023 in June, 31,377 in July and 69,628 in August, Dr Suwannachai said. Infections resulted mainly from close contacts with infected family members and people. Schools were forcedly shut down due to the outbreaks.

As of Sept 5, 88% of teachers and staff at schools were vaccinated against Covid-19. As of Sept 11, 74,932 students with chronic diseases received their first jab of the Pfizer vaccine and 3,241 had two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

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