Top virologist warns school reopening must not be a political decision
The right timing for the opening of the first school semester of this year should not be a political decision, but should be based on scientific reasoning, with the physical and mental health of the students being taken into consideration, said Thailand’s leading virologist Dr. Yong Poovorawan.
The chief of the virology centre, in the Pediatrics Department at the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, said in his Facebook post today that children, like adults, are at risk of contracting COVID-19 and, although they normally exhibit minor symptoms, they can spread the disease to the other people, especially to other family members.
While admitting that learning is important for the children, he said that the key is to work out the right balance between the safety of children and the timing for the reopening of schools.
For instance, Dr. Yong said the number of students in a classroom must be reduced, to increase physical distancing, and other hygienic measures must be strictly observed, such as frequent hand washing with soap or sanitizer gel, the wearing of face masks and temperature screening.
There will be impacts, whether schools are reopened or remain closed, he said, as he suggested that infectious disease doctors, virologists and child psychiatrists should be involved in deciding when schools are to reopen.
The Ministry of Education has announced that the new semester will begin on July 1st, citing the threat from the pandemic, while distance learning has been launched to prepare students before the opening of the new semester, which normally begins mid-May.
Several opposition and anti-government critics have demanded early reopening of schools, claiming that children are less susceptible to the disease and that late reopening of schools will affect the education of their children.