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Schools to reopen on May 17 despite cases

BANGKOK: Schools will reopen as scheduled on May 17 for on-site teaching despite concerns about the rate of COVID-19 infections, according to the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec).

By Bangkok Post

Wednesday 6 April 2022, 09:08AM

Children wear face masks at a kindergarten. Photo: File / Bangkok Post

Children wear face masks at a kindergarten. Photo: File / Bangkok Post

Obec is determined to push ahead with the opening of the new term after meeting school district directors and headmasters from across the country, reports the Bangkok Post.

Yesterday (Apr 5) Obec’s secretary-general, Amporn Pinasa, said the meeting discussed and assessed the readiness of schools to reopen.

He insisted the May 17 opening date for the first term of the academic year still stands. “There will be no postponement,” he said.

The Obec secretary-general said he has directed schools to conduct mainly on-site classes. However, remote learning or other teaching methods or a combination of online and other methods may provide a useful alternative.

The ground rule was that on-site classes must conform strictly to COVID-free setting requirements issued by the Public Health Ministry.

Preparations must factor in the health safety issue associated with getting buildings, teaching methods and teachers ready for the new term.

Education zone offices are duty-bound to supervise schools in their areas closely and prepare them for any crisis stemming from the pandemic after reopening, Mr Amporn said.

He said readiness levels varied. More prone to the impact of crisis are small schools with 120 students or less.

Some of these state-run schools face a shortage of teachers. In many cases, retired teachers were not replaced.

Mr Amporn said he has instructed school zone offices to survey small schools and find out how many do not have enough teachers.

Other schools with a surplus of teaching staff may be asked to re-assign teachers to schools hit by shortages.

Thai Residential

Many Thai families not equipped for online learning

The announcement came after a report revealed more than half of Thai families are not adequately equipped for their children to receive online education, on the same day the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) released its own joint reflection on the impact of COVID-19 on education.

Unicef and the World Bank yesterday launched “Where are we on education recovery”, revealing that students all over the world are facing learning difficulties due to school closures throughout the outbreak, reports the Bangkok Post.

“With a combined 2 trillion hours of in-person schooling lost due to school closures since March 2020, students in more than four out of five countries have fallen behind in their learning. Less well-off children have seen their learning falling back,” Unesco Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini said.

“In particular, the most marginalised - those living in poverty and rural areas, children with disabilities, and the youngest students - have fallen the furthest behind.”

Ms Giannini insisted that due to the school shutdown, basic, foundational skills upon which every aspect of education is built have been erased in many countries.

“Children who were poised to start school for the first time never got the chance to learn these skills in the first place, as early childhood education disappeared in most countries,” she said.

Without urgent remedial action, she cautioned that this could carry serious lifelong consequences in terms of health and well-being, future learning and employment as this group reaches adulthood.

With the pandemic entering its third year, 23 countries - home to around 405 million schoolchildren - are yet to fully reopen their schools.

Meanwhile, in Thailand, a survey by the National Statistical Office in 2020 revealed that more than half of Thai families are not ready to educate their offspring at home, as 51% of them lacked the equipment, 26% did not even have internet access, and 40% of parents did not have time to assist their children with participating in the online classes.

In order to mitigate this problem, the Representative for Unicef Thailand Kyungsun Kim said it has been working with the Ministry of Education and allied agencies to reverse this worrying trend.

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