Most of Thailand’s schools reopen under new normal regime today

After about two months of closure, due to concerns over widespread COVID-19 infections, schools in most parts of Thailand, except for Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan, reopened today (Monday) amidst widespread anxiety among students, teachers and parents alike.

The cheerful atmosphere of classmates seeing one another again after two months of separation, smiling faces and laughter, which normally characterize the first day of a new semester, were absent today, replaced by new normal caution and a sombre atmosphere. Face masks have become the norm and all students have to go through temperature checks and cleanse their hands with sanitation gel before entering schools.

At Wattanothai Payap School in Chiang Mai, for an instance, the number of students at each class has been capped at 30, in line with social distancing measures. Students are told not to chat while eating in the canteen and the classrooms will be disinfected every day after school.

Mr. Prawit Paweenkiatikhun, the school’s deputy director, told Thai PBS that students will attend classes alternately, on weekly basis, to reduce congestion, and all extra-curricular group activities are banned, except for group learning activities.

There are 959 schools in Chiang Mai under the supervision of the Office of the Basic Education Commission, the local administration organizations, the Office of the Private Education Commission and the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation.  Most of them reopened today.

In Phitsanulok province, Mr. Luechai Chunakha, the provincial educational chief, assured parents that all schools in the province have taken preventive steps to ensure the safety of the students.

While admitting that teachers in the province are yet to be inoculated, because they will not receive any vaccines from the Ministry of Public Health until August, he pleaded with teachers, students and their parents not to lower their guard.

In Kamphaeng Phet province, the new school term has been postponed until further notice, after 63 new COVID-19 infections were recently reported, causing concern among teachers and parents alike.

In the northeastern province of Kalasin, numerous parents said they do not want to send their small children to attend classes today, for fear of infection.

At a nursery in Tha Pla district, of the northern province of Uttradit, no children are allowed to play together and each is confined to a small space with a plastic partition.

In the southern province of Trang, over 100 schools in ten districts remain closed until June 28th, when schools are due to reopen, because of ongoing infections.

In Phuket, all schools reopened today as normal, although students are required to wear face masks all the time and parents are not allowed into the schools.  Several parents told Thai PBS that they are not worried about the pandemic.

Results of a poll conducted by Bangkok Poll released over the weekend showed over 71.1%of 1,043 parents across the country surveyed do not want their children to go back to school yet, as COVID-19 infections are still rising.

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