BANGKOK: Thailand unveiled various strict COVID-19 control measures on Tuesday (Sep 14) in preparation for classes to resume in schools.
Known as Sandbox Safety Zone in School (SSS), the initiative was jointly developed by the education and public health ministries. The measures aim to create a safety zone in educational institutes once they are allowed to resume on-site operations.
“The Public Health Ministry is fully aware that it is crucial for students to go to school as usual because it affects the interactions among themselves and their interactions with society. Besides, there are many activities that children cannot fully learn online,” said Dr Suwanchai Watthanayingcharoenchai, director-general of the Health Department, in a press conference on Tuesday.
Many schools in Thailand have remained closed for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, on-site learning is expected to resume in the second semester in November as the government plans to vaccinate 4.5 million children aged between 12 and 17 next month.
Under the SSS initiative, educational institutes will be categorised according to the severity of the transmission in their respective provinces, from green to yellow, orange, red and dark red. Each category will entail different COVID-19 control measures.
These include the requirement for educational institutes to assess their readiness for on-site education based on guidelines provided by the Health Department and to carry out learning activities in small groups.
Those located in the high risk zones such as Bangkok will need to conduct COVID-19 rapid antigen tests one or two times per week. They are also required to issue a school pass for every student, teacher and educational staff for screening and monitoring purposes.
“The school pass will contain information such as their personal risk assessment, results of their rapid antigen tests, vaccination records or medical history going back one to three months in case they’ve been infected before,” said Dr Suwanchai of the Health Department.