The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Tuesday released guidelines for schools reopening in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The release of the guidelines comes after 20 private schools with high safety standards reopened over the last few days.

The nine-page guidelines said classrooms, libraries, laboratories, canteens, toilets and handwashing facilities must be disinfected before a school can reopen.

Teachers must maintain a classroom temperature of at least 24 degrees Celsius, clean classrooms daily and open windows or doors to provide enough sunlight and airflow during class.

Moreover, the school must set up desks and chairs at least 2m from each other and no more than 25 students can be in one class at a time. Mass gatherings must be avoided and students must stand in line 1.5m apart from each other.

Libraries, playgrounds and sports areas will be temporarily closed and students will not be allowed to borrow each other’s books. Unauthorised people must not be allowed to enter campuses and everyone must keep a distance of 1.5m when communicating with each other.

If a student’s temperature hits 37.5 degrees or more, he can rest at home. Students and staff are required to bring food from their homes and sit 1.5m apart during mealtimes.

The sale of food in and around schools is prohibited.

The ministry warned that managers of schools which don’t follow the guidelines and cause an outbreak of Covid-19 will face legal and administrative punishment.

Twenty private international schools in Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap and Battambang provinces have resumed operations under the guidelines.

Education ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said the second and third phases of school reopenings would depend on the evaluation of the private schools now open.

The Kingdom’s schools were ordered closed in March after a Cambodian man in Siem Reap and a Canadian teacher in Phnom Penh tested positive for the virus.

Cambodia has reported a total of 241 Covid-19 cases. Another senior US embassy official tested positive on Tuesday, bringing the total number of infected embassy officials to four.

Three Covid-19 patients recovered as well, bringing the total number of fully recovered patients to 200.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said that most Covid-19 cases in Cambodia were imported.

Cambodia enacted strict measures on preventing virus transmissions on May 20. One measure required all foreign travellers to be tested for Covid-19 before entering the country. They also must quarantine for 14 days.

Meanwhile, officials are concerned about quarantine escapees after two men left their facilities in Prey Veng province on Monday evening.

Provincial deputy governor Chan Tha told The Post that under the cover of rain, between 4pm and 5pm on Monday, two men fled Hun Sen Kampong Leav High School, where they were quarantined. They travelled to their house in Prey Toeng commune’s Boeung Chor village in Sithor Kandal district.

“The reason they violated quarantine and their obligation was because they believed they did not have Covid-19. They went to meet their friends and drink beer. Police caught them at 10pm. Those people are negligent and arrogant,” he said.

Tha said the two men, who arrived from Malaysia on July 23 would have to quarantine for 14 more days to deter others from attempting to escape. Authorities are gathering more information about who met the two men after they escaped.

The two men’s friends and relatives now need to quarantine for 14 days as well.

On July 17, a Cambodian-American woman who arrived from the US fled from her quarantine facility at a Phnom Penh hotel. She took a taxi to another hotel in Kampong Cham province and was found by officials the following day.

That woman was fined one million riel and asked to sign a contract. After a third Covid-19 test came back negative, she was allowed to go home on July 29.