A total of 23 students tested positive for Covid-19 on the first day that schools reopened in Phnom Penh on September 15, prompting 14 classrooms to temporarily shut down again.
Phnom Penh education department director Hem Sinareth said some of the 23 students tested positive prior to their arrival at their schools.
He said the students who tested positive had contracted the virus somewhere outside of school since this was the first day of reopening. Students in the same class with the positive students have been placed in quarantine and will continue learning online.
“We’ve already given them rapid tests and told them to stay in quarantine at their homes. Their classes are temporarily suspended for 14 days,” he said.
According to Sinareth, 142 out of 227 schools – 96 of them private – have reopened in the capital since September 15.
Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron issued a directive on September 17 suspending 14 classrooms for two weeks: One at Hun Sen Ponhea Ton high school; three at Boeung Prei high school; one at Boeung Thom high school; eight at Wat Phnom high school; and one at Wat Koh high school.
Chuon Naron said the other classes in those schools can continue as normal by following preventive measures thoroughly, but in-person communication among students from different classes is banned.
Sinareth said that despite these positive cases, the school reopening generally went smoothly with all public and private schools following the standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by the education ministry.
He said the atmosphere at the schools seemed quiet due to the limited number of students allowed in each class and because students’ movements within their school buildings are also restricted and they are not allowed to visit other classrooms while the sale of food within the school compounds is also prohibited.
“We think the risk of Covid-19 transmission at school is very low as compared to other places. We inspected some schools and found that the schools had complied with health and hygiene measures as expected. It was quiet and uneventful enough that if viewed from the outside you may not even be able to tell there are students learning inside,” Sinareth said.
Municipal governor Khuong Sreng said last week that any school that has 10 per cent or more of its students and teachers testing positive for the disease will be temporarily closed.
Uk Chhayavy, president of the Cambodian Independent Teacher Association, said school reopening has generally proceeded well due to the fact that only 15 students are permitted in each class, along with adherence to health measures.