Re-opening of schools to depend on contact intensity, number of contacts and class modification potential: health minister

Reopening of schools and other educational institutes would depend on contact intensity, number of contacts and class modification potential said Health Minister Dechen Wangmo during press-meet on June 3.

However, she added that the government would decide on the re-opening, and health ministry can only recommend on the prevention, precautionary, and containment measures that are required.

With effect from March 18 this year, the education ministry notified that all educational institutions would close until further notice based on the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) regionally and globally. 

The health ministry mandates schools and other institutions to maintain physical distancing and frequency of the crowds, modify class time, class size, and classrooms ensuring proper ventilation, said Lyonpo.

Additionally, she said rearrangement of hostels and dining halls are required and activities like large gatherings should be avoided, instead using open space for unavoidable gatherings.

“The schools and institutions should restrict visitors, and use Druk Trace App regularly or maintain listing of the visitors,” said Lyonpo.

Moreover, Lyonpo said there is need of regular advocacy session on the prevention and precaution of COVID-19 and daily health screening and monitoring.

There also need to identify and set up hand washing stations in schools and institutions, she added. 

Further, the education ministry has also planned to provide basic hand washing provisions such as hand washing soap to all schools, and hand sanitizers to identified needy and vulnerable schools with support from United Nations Children’s Fund and Save the Children International.

Lyonpo also assured that the schools and institutions should have COVID-19 focal person trained by the health ministry and to inform the ministry if there is outbreak.

The schools and institutions should also identify an isolation room if there is confirmed positive case of COVID-19 and quarantine facilities.  

From March 5 this year as of now, there are 48 COVID positive cases in Bhutan.

Thukten Zangpo from Thimphu