Schools to Remain Closed Indefinitely 

Schools throughout Cambodia have been closed since March 16 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo: AFP

Nationwide closure to remain until pandemic brought under control, but some public schools and universities may reopen next month.

PHNOM PENH--Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron said on May 12 that the temporary closure of all schools will continue indefinitely to prevent a second wave of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) infections in Cambodia. He noted that the closures should remain in place until the pandemic is brought under control.

“I see that all schools at all levels should delay reopening and continue monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 situation to prevent community outbreaks and a second wave of infections,” he said, adding that the pandemic is not under control and a vaccine remains unavailable.

Chuon Naron went on to say that the Ministry of Education’s decisions are based on guidance from the Ministry of Health, as Cambodia is yet to face the second wave of COVID-19 infections, which will be more likely and more severe if people do not adhere to the Health Ministry’s measures. 

“The ministry has introduced Distance Learning and E-Learning Programs through various platforms for cooperation among all stakeholders for the students to learn digitally instead of in a classroom,” the Education Minister’s statement read.

The ministry said that there are around 50 to 60 students per class, which would make social distancing impossible, along with following other guidelines from the World Health Organization while teaching. 

Just last week, on May 6, the Cambodia Independent Teachers’ Association wrote to the Ministry of Education requesting that they be allowed to reopen schools for the sake of the students’ education. They raised concerns over the efficacy of the digital alternatives offered by the ministry and suggested that smaller schools may pose a limited risk in terms of the virus. 

However, Chuon Naron has suggested that in response to requests from higher education associations and some public schools, a few educational institutions may be able to reopen in the fourth week of May or the first week of June.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health issued a statement saying it had found no new cases of COVID-19 in Cambodia. As of May 13, there remains just one patient receiving treatment for COVID-19 at Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh. This marks 30 days since Cambodia last detected a case of 

As of May 13, the Ministry of Health has sent 14,327 samples to the Pasteur Institute for COVID-19 testing. This is up from 14,094 tests conducted by May 11, but means that Cambodia conducted just 233 tests over three days.

 


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