Classes PP-VI will not reopen this academic year 

Yangchen C Rinzin

The government announced yesterday that classes X and XII will resume from July 1 in the first phase of the transition to a new normal.

Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government prioritised the two critical classes as they have board exams.

This means there will be no summer vacation.

Classes for VII to IX and XI will resume in phases in an about a month. However, primary classes up to Class VI will not reopen this year.

Lyonchhen said that in the event of local transmission, it would be difficult for the primary students to understand the risk of Covid-19 and implement safety protocols.

“These students will not undergo campus education this year and continue with online education or other modalities like now,” Lyonchhen said. “The students would be assessed based on key learning and I’ll direct education ministry to work on this.”

For students without access to online education, the ministry will  work on different modalities like giving them a chance to come to school to do the exam or teachers could go door-to-door.

While for the private schools, especially at the primary level where there is already confusion on the tuition fee, Lyonchhen said that he will direct education ministry, private schools and parents to sit together and come up with ways to solve the issue.

Lyonchhen said when it comes to college and institutes, the government has decided that Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) will ensure final year students and institutes resume campus study so that the students can prepare for graduation.

While first and second-year students will continue online classes and assessment as adopted by RUB. This would also apply to those who completed Class XII last year and are waiting for admission into colleges.

This would also ensure that intake in civil service, corporate offices and private sector are undisrupted for the graduates.

The government has also decided to start technical and vocational education training (TVET) institutes from a specified date, as the institutes operate on campus with boarding facilities and need training on-site.

This will also include private TVET, including driving and tailoring, because they operate in small numbers without protracted contact.

However, Lyonchhen said that all the students on campus are required to wear masks.

The school administrations and management of institutes and colleges will prepare the campus in keeping with Covid-19 safety and prevention guidelines and protocols.

Lyonchhen said that relaxation doesn’t mean increased risks but the government must take advantage of benefit and opportunities created by the sacrifices of His Majesty and hard work of frontline workers.

“There is no end to Covid-19 and this is a transition to a new normal, as we realise the measures we adopted in anticipation of the worse withstood the test,” Lyonchhen said.

“The journey so far has been one of learning and the transition is a result of confidence to move forward.”

Lyonchhen said that although there is an increasing number of cases in our quarantine facilities and across border towns, the government must trust the system and frontline workers.

“Globally, countries are striking a balance between the pandemic and the socio-economic sustenance. In our case, we must take advantage of the system that has no local transmission.”

Should there be a local transmission, the government will immediately issue instructions for additional restrictions to prevent the spread.

The government will continue to emphasise health and safety of people and ensure these measures will not compromise the efforts against the disease and risk local transmission, according to the press release issued by Prime Minister’s Office.

The press release stated that for reopening classes VII, VIII, IX and XI, the government is exploring possibilities of allowing students in separate groups on alternate days of the week to discourage crowding.

The relaxation of restrictions is expected to enable the government to, at least, reduce the wait for the pandemic to abate.