Cambodia re-opens schools after coronavirus shutdown

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (AP) — Schools throughout Cambodia re-opened yesterday for the first time since March but with class sizes and hours limited by coronavirus precautions.

Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron said a second closing would be considered if any students became infected while attending classes. He said students and teachers would have to learn to work with vigilance and safety measures because COVID-19 was still raging in Europe and the United States (US) and no vaccine for it has yet been developed.

A trial phase of re-opening for some schools in the capital Phnom Penh and parts of eastern Cambodia started last month, and Hang Chuon Naron said the good results prompted the approval for re-opening nationwide.

“As the government has controlled the COVID situation very well, we have seen that in Cambodia the number of cases has not increased, and especially the border control is every effective,” he told reporters at a school in Phnom Penh.

In addition to the limits on class sizes and hours, school buses, libraries, physical education and art activities and canteens will resume under the Health Ministry’s rules covering coronavirus safety.

“So, we have two objectives – number one is safety for our students, our teachers, as well as the community, and number two is to continue education for everyone,” he said.

Cambodia has reported 292 cases of coronavirus infection, with no deaths. The Health Ministry yesterday reported one new case, a Cambodian returning from abroad.

Students disinfect their hands at Santhormok high school, in Phnom Penh. PHOTO: AP