By THE NATION
The government is considering allowing schools in infection-free areas to open in July.
“The first point that must be emphasised is preventing the spread of Covid-19 and other germs by setting up screening checkpoints at all entrances to check for fever and other symptoms,” said Department of Health director-general Dr Panpimol Wipulakorn on Friday (May 29). “Furthermore, schools must stick to strict rules on wearing face masks and washing hands frequently, as well as providing adequate alcohol gel or hand-washing stations.”
Panpimol said that each class should have no more than 20-25 students in order to maintain a distance of at least 1 metre between students. “This will pose a challenge for schools as normally each classroom has around 40 students,” she added. “Schools may employ an alternate study schedule where half of the students study online at home while the other half attend the school, and then switch at a suitable interval.”
“The second point is to prepare lessons and learning materials that are suitable for both classroom and online learning, to ensure that no student’s education is hindered during the Covid-19 situation,” said Panpimol.
“The third point is to give underprivileged and disabled children the same learning opportunities as other students by providing suitable protection equipment or specialised tools to facilitate their education both at home and in school.”
The fourth point is to protect the safety and welfare of children from families who have become ill with or are under investigation for Covid-19. Measures must be taken to ensure that affected students are not excluded from their peer group.
The fifth point is to provide infrastructure in schools to prevent the spread of the virus, including additional hand-washing sinks, partitions in cafeterias, and rearrangement of classrooms, hallways and communal areas to maintain social distancing.
“The sixth point that school should focus on is administration of their budgets, as these measures will increase the financial burden on the school and possibly on parents,” said Panpimol.
“Schools must make sure they are financially sound before reopening so they can ensure uninterrupted operations until the end of the semester.”
Panpimol urged schools to perform a self-evaluation online at https://stopcovid.anamai.moph.go.th/, where they can check whether or not they are ready to open during the ongoing Covid-19 situation.