Every country is dealing with the virus differently, and one major concern is the decision whether or not to send kids back to school. Case numbers have remained consistently low for months and the Thai goverment has decided it is safe to open the schools with social distancing measures in place. Through conversatons with teachers at various schools, these safety measures include staggered classes and social distancing between students, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, and masks or face shields while at school. We went to visit director Kittichai at Kamplafa School to see how opening back up under the “new normal” regualtions was going.
The Thai government has spent the past couple of years pushing to end small schools in some of the quieter villages across Thailand and funnel kids into larger schools. Ironically, small schools are exactly what’s needed right now. Buengkan School, with class sizes of 50 students, are forced to stagger classes by dividng the class in half and running on an every other day schedule. Kamplafa doesn’t have to worry about that! Small class sizes mean they can run on their regular schedule and the students don’t have to miss out on any valuable class time.
Kamplafa Primary School has provided each student with one face shield. They are stored at school to be used daily by the students. Have you ever been around kids? If so, then you will know that even the best laid plans don’t always run smoothly! After about a month or so some of the kids still managed to lose or break their face shields. They still have masks, but it is ddifficult to get kids to stay apart from each other during free time or to wear their masks and shields consistently.
Fortunately Kamplafa is in a pretty rural village. There has never been a reported case of covid within Buengkan Province, so while the kids find it quite difficult to follow the strict new rules there is still low risk.
Thailand has, at the time of writing, continued to keep the borders closed for international tourism. However many Thais have expressed reluctance to re-open borders and that begs the question…will schools be ready to accept foreigners once they area allowed in?
Schools need the foreign teachers, yes. But a lot of schools we have been talking to are reluctant to bring new faces into their schools without the safety net of a vaccine. We’re still working with schools and remaining in constant communication on what is most needed for them right now and what we can do to help.
If you have volunteered with us in the past, or were considering volunteering pre- covid, please consider donating as a way to give back from afar! While we cannot currently send volunteers out into the field we are still actively involved with them. Many kids will eat only one full meal a day, lunch at school, and the schools are struggling with even tighter budgets to feed, care for, and teach their students. Plus, directors like Kittichai have been dipping into their own finances to buy PPE for their students to keep them as safe as possible during this time!