Students from the Wichuthit school eat their lunch after the Thai government eased isolation measures and introduced social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as schools nationwide reopened in Bangkok, Thailand, July 1, 2020. REUTERS/Chalinee Thirasupa
SAM KHOK, Thailand (Reuters) – Thai schools reopened on Wednesday for the first time since mid-March, with precautions in place to guard against the coronavirus, ranging from temperature checks to installing makeshift cubicles for social distancing in classrooms.
At Sam Khok school, about 50 km (31 miles) north of Bangkok, nearly 5,000 students were told to self-quarantine at home for 15-days prior to the re-start as an extra precaution, Principal Chuchart Thiengtham said.
“Once students arrive at school, teachers hand face masks to them because it’s mandatory to wear them,” said Chuchart, adding that face shields were also provided to pupils for additional safety during some activities.
Students also get their temperatures checked and a facial recognition scanner automatically sends a message to parents, he said.
In the classroom, the school has turned cardboard ballot boxes used in elections into partitions to ensure social distancing between desks. “I feel good studying behind the box because it makes me feel safer returning to school,” said student Kanlaya Srimongkhol.
However, 17-year-old Soponwich Thianthong said while he felt more secure the partitions could be irritating because it limited his field of vision.
The coronavirus has killed 58 people in Thailand out of 3,173 infections, though the country has not recorded a case of local transmission for 37 days. Thailand this week extended an emergency decree until the end of July in a bid to avoid the risk of a second wave, even as it relaxed more restrictions by also opening bars and allowing some foreigners into the country.