Lao schools struggle with Covid-19 rules

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Most state schools need more preventive equipment such as temperature monitors, hand gel and face masks. VIENTIANE TIMES

Many schools in Laos are unable to comply with measures to avert further outbreaks of the coronavirus due to a lack of necessary preventive equipment, said Ministry of Education and Sports senior official Dr Sisouk Vongvichit.

Most state schools need more preventive equipment such as temperature monitors, hand gel and face masks, and this is the reason they cannot follow procedures issued by the ministry.

Nevertheless, many schools have been able to implement steps such as increasing the number of classrooms and arranging suitable seating for students with social distancing of 1m.

Schools have handwashing basins with soap for students and teachers and cleaning classrooms once a week to reduce the risk of infections.

Dr Sisouk, the director-general of the ministry’s General Education Department, told Vientiane Times how schools around the country were coping with implementing the measures.

Since final-year classes in primary, lower and upper secondary schools were reopened two weeks ago, education authorities have monitored state and private primary and secondary schools and found that many are not able to comply with the measures.

Dr Sisouk said: “The ministry has reported the problem to the National Taskforce Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control for their consideration and to offer solutions to ensure the wellbeing of teachers and students.

“After the government announced that Grade 5 primary and Grades 4 and 7 secondary classes would reopen on May 18, the ministry proposed the committee donate soap, hand gel, face masks, temperature monitors and build washbasins for schools nationwide, and we are now waiting for the response from the committee,” she said.

Communicable Disease Control Department director-general and member of the National Taskforce Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control Dr Rattanaxay Phetsouvan explained that the committee had provided essential preventive equipment for border checkpoints and hospitals.

“For education institutions, the committee has advised school administrators buy soap, hand gel, face masks and temperature monitors. Many brands of equipment are not too expensive and easy to buy in markets.”

“The committee told the Ministry of Education and Sports to draw up a budget plan to propose to the committee to order essential preventive equipment that the schools needed,” Dr Rattanaxay added.

The ministry and the taskforce committee recommended that school administrators must implement precautionary measures to prevent further outbreaks of the coronavirus.

These include schools keeping their premises clean, teachers and students must wear face masks, and providing preventive equipment for students.

Teachers should arrange suitable seating for students with social distancing of at least 1m, and everyone must have their body temperature checked before entering school premises.

VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK