New push to vaccinate school kids this term
Isolation 'sandbox' for at-risk students
The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has held talks with the Ministry of Education on distributing vaccines for school kids, ahead of the new term which begins next month.
Schools nationwide will provide on-site study this academic year; however, any student who tests positive for Covid-19 or is considered a high-risk contact will need to be quarantined, CCSA spokesman Taweesilp Visanuyothin, said on Friday.
He said schools will need to follow the "Sandbox Safety Zone in School (SSS)" scheme, which involves isolation for infected and high-risk contacts. Any student or staff who fall into these categories will need to undergo home isolation for five days.
Meanwhile, at least 1-metre social distancing needs to be observed in classrooms.
The Ministry of Public Health will work with the Department of Health in distributing as many vaccine doses as possible for students before the term starts.
Vaccinations among children aged five to 11 have only reached 50% of the estimated goal.
Among the 5.1 million in this age group, 2.5 million have received their first dose and 290,000 their second. Meanwhile, 4.3 million children aged from 12 to 17 have received their first dose and 3.9 million are fully vaccinated.
Education Minister Trinuch Thienthong said the ministry backs the policy of a return to classrooms as long as circumstances allow it. It will not set requirements for students to be vaccinated before attending school.
However, she added the ministry will encourage students from elementary to high vocational certificate levels to receive more doses. Also, schools need to strictly follow infection prevention measures such as social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing, and testing, among others.
"The ministry and CCSA agreed we need to categorise students into two groups: Students who can study on-site and will have to maintain social distancing; and those who still need to study from home," Ms Trinuch said.
"Schools will have to provide materials for them to study online or offline, depending on the student's needs," she added.
Students who cannot afford online study equipment such as computers will be provided with school supplies.