Public Health & Education Ministries Look to Restore Normal Classroom Operations

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The Public Health and Education ministries are looking to restore normal classroom operations given that no new COVID-19 transmissions have been recorded since the beginning of the new term almost a month ago.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, the spokesman for the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said it had authorised the Department of Disease Control under the Ministry of Public Health to work with the Education Ministry to assess the situation in schools nationwide since most campuses reopened on 1st July 2020.

The assessment found that all schools and other educational institutions had so far been free of COVID-19 infections.

It also showed that young people face a lower risk of contracting COVID-19. In Thailand, those aged less than nine years old make up 1.9% of all COVID-19 patients, while those aged 10 to 19 account for 3.8% of infected people.

Dr Visanuyothin said there had been no clusters of transmissions in either group. Disease control experts explained that children’s nose cavities are less susceptible to catching the virus.

However, infected children who exhibit little or no symptoms can still pass the disease on to adults at home, which led to the question of whether COVID-19 restrictions imposed to curb the outbreak were eased too early by the government.

Schools with large classrooms have made special arrangements around the pandemic, splitting classes into two groups.

One was students studying for five days in a row at school, the other being those learning via the internet at home. After one week, the two groups switched.

Dr Visanuyothin, however, said the special arrangement was flawed because poor students had limited access to adequate computer hardware and software needed for online learning.

He also said impoverished students could not take advantage of the state-run school lunch programme while studying at home.

The spokesman added the arrangement hurt the cognitive development and social interaction skills of those studying from home.

The two ministries are now discussing the possibility of restoring normal school hours and operations, albeit with strict health safety measures.