The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport will allow 20 high-safety-standards schools to reopen next month despite new cases of Covid-19 in the country.
Ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha wrote in a Telegram message on Wednesday that the schools are in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.
They must follow guidelines laid down by the ministries of Education; Health, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He said the schools that reopen have to organise social and physical distancing on campuses, and in buildings and classrooms. Schools that fail to honour the agreement will be ordered closed.
“Education establishments have to continue implementing mix methodologies – distant learning and online learning along with classroom education.
“Guidelines on the required conditions of enhancing basic study in the context of Covid-19 in preparation for the safety protocols required at the schools will be issued,” he said.
Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron recently inspected some international schools in Phnom Penh to assess protective measures and safety before deciding that those schools could reopen.
Westview Cambodian International School said in a Facebook post that it had fulfilled all of the ministry’s conditions and has been allowed to reopen during the first phase.
“Parents and guardians of students have to sign an agreement on the ministry’s safety standards before sending their children to school.
“A working group at the school is preparing those documents and we will contact the parents and guardians as soon as possible,” the post read.
The government announced nationwide school closures in March. Distance learning initiatives have had mixed results, particularly in the countryside because of the lack of resources.
Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association president Ouk Chayavy is dissatisfied at the reopening of private schools.
She said the ministry seemed very concerned with private schools and didn’t think to pay attention to State schools whose students are preparing for Grade 9 through 12 examinations next month.
She said the association had demanded that the ministry reopen schools at the same time. But because Cambodia has seen a recent surge of cases, schools should not reopen.
“Over the last few days, Cambodia has seen a spike in Covid-19 cases – from 20 to nearly 30. We ask the ministry to reconsider its decision,” she said.