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Thailand’s Education Ministry Delays New School Term Over Covid Fears

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Thailand, covid-19, schools, students,

Thailand’s Education Ministry has announced to its delay the opening of the new school term to June 1 over rising Covid-19 concerns. Education Minister Trinuch Thienthong said on Tuesday the decision was made at a meeting yesterday.

Education Minister Trinuch met with the permanent secretary and secretaries-general of the Office of the Basic Education Commission, the Office of the Vocational Education Commission, the Office of the Private Education Commission and the Office of the Non-formal and Information Education.

They were all briefed on the Covid-19 situation, and discussed the reopening of schools.

The meeting resolved to postpone the opening of the first term of the new academic year from May 17 until June 1, on the grounds that covid-19 infections may be more severe and that would affect classes and activities.

Parents were also worried, she said.

The ministry had prepared guidelines to ensure the delay will not affect learning opportunities and the rights of students. Between May 17 and May 31, all schools and teaching personnel are to prepare learning places, management and other related tasks for the new term, and ensure a full understanding with parents, Ms Trinuch said.

Teachers may be assigned to visit students at their home and to organize extra learning activities online, she said.

The ministry would constantly assess the Covid-19 situation and announcements issued by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), because it wanted to minimize the impact on students of the delay in the re-opening of schools.

Schools on the outskirts of towns which were only slightly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak may be able to provide normal courses, the minister said.

“At the moment, admissions for Mathayom Suksa 1 and Mathayom Suksa 4 students at schools across the country have not been completed.

“About 10,000 schools failed to meet the deadline on the student admission calendar, which is another reason the opening of the new school year has to be delayed.

“The new term is delayed for just 11 days. During this period, all educational institutes must prepare courses to meet the curriculum. The end of the school term remains unchanged, as on the school calendar, on Oct 11,’’ the minister said.

World Health Organization (COVID-19): Schools

According to data the WHO suggests that children under the age of 18 years represent about 8.5% of reported covid-19 cases worldwide, with relatively few deaths compared to other age groups.

However, cases of critical illness have been reported. As with adults, pre-existing medical conditions have been suggested as a risk factor for severe disease and intensive care admission in children.

The WHO also reports the role of children in transmission is not yet fully understood. To date, few outbreaks involving children or schools have been reported. However, the small number of outbreaks reported among teaching or associated staff to date suggests that spread of COVID-19 within educational settings may be limited.

As children generally have milder illness and fewer symptoms, cases may sometimes go unnoticed. Importantly, early data from studies suggest that infection rates among teenagers may be higher than in younger children.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact across the world. Efforts to contain the coronavirus are vital to the health of the world’s population, but they are also exposing children to increased risk of violence – including maltreatment, gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.

The situation is aggravated by children’s lack of access to school friends, teachers, social workers and the safe space and services that schools provide. The most vulnerable children – including refugees, migrants, and children who are internally displaced, deprived of liberty, living without parental care, living on the street and in urban slums, with disabilities, and living in conflict-affected areas – are a particular concern. For many, growing economic vulnerability will increase the threat of child labour, child marriage and child trafficking.

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