Weekly antigen COVID tests required by private schools in Thailand

A student steps over social distancing markers as they wait in line to undergo temperature checks as schools reopen due to the easing of restrictions after a temporary closure to combat the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Bangkok on February 1, 2021. Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP

Several parents have complained about the costs of weekly antigen COVID-19 tests being required by many private schools, even though they are not mandated by the country’s Education Ministry.

The ministry explained that it does not require students to take antigen tests on a weekly basis and that such tests are required only when there are infections at school or in nearby communities. The statement follows demands by many parents, that the ministry cover the expense of the tests.

Education Permanent Secretary Supat Champathong said today (Tuesday) that many privately owned schools have set their own standards, which are stricter than those laid down by the ministry.

He also said that the private schools requiring the tests should be responsible for procuring the kits with their own funds and that they must meet the standard set by the Thai Food and Drug Administration (TFDA).

Supat recommended that parents negotiate with the schools over who should bear the cost of the tests or whether the cost should be shared.

Some parents have complained that, since they have 2 or 3 children in schools, the testing alone will be several hundred baht per month, which is quite a financial burden in light of the current economic difficulties.

Meanwhile, Professor Supaset Khanakul, president of the Association Board of Coordination and Promotion of Private Education (APPE), said that private schools have imposed the strict regulation for COVID-19 tests because they have want to reduce the risk of their students attending on-site classes during their initial reopening period.

He explained that, during this period, which began on November 1st, schools are not yet able to categorise the students by risk, such as whether the parents are fully inoculated.

Once the classification is done, he said that antigen tests would be confined to the most at-risk people and, for others, random tests would be conducted once every two weeks or so.


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