The Ministry of Health has ordered all local and international schools in Thailand to take extra precautionary measures against the spread of Covid-19. While the majority of schools remain open in the country, they must now adhere to stricter guidelines for self-quarantine that apply to anyone living in or visiting the country (see below).
The news follows an increase in the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Thailand, with 32 testing positive for the virus over the weekend. This brings the number of cases in the country to 114.
Bangok Patana School, which remains open, encouraged its school community to follow the updated guidelines for self-quarantine.
"The Ministry of Public Health today (March 15) reinforced the importance of social distancing as the majority of confirmed cases in recent days have arisen from not following the guidelines of the MOPH on personal hygiene, hand washing and limiting the sharing of personal items.
"We ask our community to please be conservative as well and follow social distancing protocols as much as possible."
All students and staff are subject to a 14-day self-quarantine if they have visited any of Thailand’s list of At-Risk Countries within the past 14 days. These include Japan, Norway, the US, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark and the UK.
They must also self-quarantine if they have visited or been in contact with immediate family members who have visited any of Thailand's Disease Infected Countries list. This includes China, Hong Kong, Macau, Iran, Italy and South Korea.
Children cannot attend school if:
After the 14 days of quarantine students will need to have a doctor's certificate to confirm that attendance at school is acceptable and/or a negative test result for Covid-19.
Many schools are due to close for the spring break in April. Principals are reminding parents to reconsider any travel plans they are making for the Songkran holiday to avoid any need for quarantine when their school reopens after the break.
Most local and international schools in Thailand have remained open since the outbreak of COVID-19 was first announced, but strict precautionary measures have been implemented at every campus. These include temperature checks for anyone entering a school campus, deep cleaning of all facilities, and widespread use of hand sanitiser. Campus tours, external visitors, overnight school trips, inter-school activities, and events have all been put on hold.
External visitors need to sign a Self-Declaration Form declaring they have not visited restricted countries in the previous 14 days or been in close contact with someone who has. KPIS requires all students, teachers and parents to complete a Self-Declaration Form to qualify for a QR code that is required for all to enter the campus.
With many school open days currently on hold, schools are launching virtual school tours on their website. Rugby School Thailand, for example, is hosting a Facebook Live Q&A with its Head of Admissions on March 26.
Some international schools have closed for quarantine and deep-cleaning, mostly as a precautionary measure; for example, if members of their community have come into contact with people who have returned from affected countries. Parents should feel reassured that schools in Thailand are being quick to respond to any threat to their student and staff's health.
International School Bangkok is closed from March 6-23; Brighton College Bangkok closed for one day in early March; and Berkeley International School closed for five days after a "Berkeley family transited through a flagged country".
Concordian International School is closed for 14 days from March 16-27 "strictly as a precaution". The campus was deep cleaned over the weekend, parents only can enter to collect their child's bags and any materials needed for online learning, and online learning starts on March 18.
Harrow International School, Bangkok temporarily closed from March 2-6 as a precautionary measure to safeguard its staff and students. The all-through British school closed its lakeside campus in the capital’s Don Muang district, even though there have been no reported cases of the virus at the school.
During any closure period, international schools in Thailand are using various methods of home and online learning to minimise disruption to their students’ education, such as Seesaw, Google Classroom, Google Meets and Zoom for online lessons, stories, instructional videos, sing-along assemblies, music sessions, and much more.
Students who are self-quarantined for 14 days are also able to access various online teaching methods so that they can continue to learn remotely.
Simon Aves, director or ICT at Shrewsbury International School, Bangkok (which remains open) says: "The recent concerns surrounding COVID-19, and the requirement for some students to stay at home following travel to “at risk” countries, has brought Shrewsbury’s online learning plans into action.
"Our virtual learning environments are well established. Firefly and Google Classroom are already used on a day-to-day basis across the school, allowing teachers to share lesson resources, assessment materials and home-learning activities.
"This experience has enabled us to provide a seamless transition from classroom to home-based study for those students who have been in quarantine over recent days."
Bangkok International Preparatory School (Sukhumvit 77) also remains open, and says that it has "used the past three weeks to pilot our online learning with selected students who have been self-quarantined".
There has been no announcement so far from the Thai government, the Office of Private Education Commission (Opec) or the International Schools Association of Thailand (ISAT) to close all schools in the country.
However, international schools are prepared for any temporary closure, as master of Wellington College Bangkok, Christopher Nicholls, explains:
“We are monitoring the situation very closely as it develops, and may be ordered to close at any time. Should we be asked to close the school, we are prepared to implement remote learning protocols right away. Our teachers have been meeting after school to prepare for such measures which would include online video conferencing and pre-preparing work that could be assigned while students are not in school.
“If our school is ordered by the Thai government to close as a precautionary measure, then the teaching staff could run the remote lessons from their classrooms.”
In these uncertain times, it's a good idea to be prepared for the closure of your child's school and the possibility of home learning.
Start by getting a device such as a tablet, laptop computer or a desktop computer that your child can use. Think about a space in your home where your child can concentrate and work. And, as well as downloading any online learning apps that your school recommends, make sure that you have the password and log in details that you need.