35,000 schools aim to reopen for new term
Student vaccination push before return
About 35,000 schools nationwide intend to resume onsite learning on May 17 with a plan to speed up student vaccinations.
Deputy Public Health Minister Sathit Pitutecha said the ministry has measures in place to control Covid-19 infections when about 35,000 schools resume onsite classes at the start of the new academic year.
The measures were unveiled during an online meeting Mr Sathit had with Supat Champathong, permanent secretary for education; Dr Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Department of Health; and provincial public health and provincial education offices.
Measures involve having parents take their children for vaccinations to lift the double dose and booster rates among students aged 5-18 to 60%.
School staff were urged to explain vaccine benefits to parents to motivate them to have their children vaccinated further.
Mr Sathit said the provincial public health office and local health clinics will liaise with schools to assess school public health safety levels and decided if they meet Thai Stop Covid+ standards.
Schools must score more than 95% on a safety level scale before they can reopen for the new term on May 17.
As for self-testing, the meeting agreed that students, teachers and school officials only need to perform an ATK test if they develop Covid-19 symptoms or are at risk of contracting the virus instead of having to take the test every three to five days as required previously.
If and when an infection is detected or people at high risk of infection are present in class, there is no need to suspend the class.
Mr Supat said most of the 35,000 schools will likely open for the new term on May 17.
They are being monitored by various agencies including the Office of the Basic Education Commission. The Education Ministry has instructed provincial education offices to arrange sanitisation in schools and clean equipment for students.
Dr Suwannachai said that from January to March, infections among children had stabilised.
In April, Covid-19 cases among children aged 0-6 were higher than those in the 7-12 and 13-19 age groups, but fatalities were low.
According to Public Health Ministry, at the end of last month, vaccinations among children aged 5 to 11 had only reached 50% of the estimated target.
Among the 5.1 million in this age group, 2.5 million had received their first dose and 290,000 their second. Meanwhile, 4.3 million children aged from 12 to 17 had received their first dose and 3.9 million were fully vaccinated.
Dr Suwannachai said if students considered at low risk of infection are found among students at boarding schools, social distancing measures would be enforced. But students considered high risk will be placed in isolation for five days and put under observation for another five days.