IV-VI to be taught in a containment zone in P/ling

Yangchen C Rinzin

Following the recommendation and advice from the National Covid-19 Task Force, the education ministry will be relocating and redistribute Classes VII-XII students of Phuentsholing Thromde to dzongkhags away from south.

This means a total of about 2,402 will not get to return to their schools  in  the 2021 academic session and parents would be given a choice to choose schools in other dzongkhags to enroll their children.

The ministry will not decide where to redistribute students.

Education Minister Jai Bir Rai said that this was decided and advised by the taskforce given the situation in Phuentsholing, which is still considered as high-risk area for Covid-19. “We were advised that should there be another local transmission or outbreak, students could be at risk. We were also told the decision is based on the risk assessment, security and from the health point of view.”

Lyonpo said that parents could choose schools, and depending on the seats available, the ministry would facilitate enrolment in a particular school. “But it’s compulsory, and they’ll not have a choice to keep the children in the same school in Phuentsholing.”    

The task force has advised the ministry to reopen schools for Classes IV-VI by keeping students at the schools and function as a containment zone. A team from the ministry will visit Phuentsholing soon to assess teh situation and prepare.

There are about 1,013 students studying in IV-VI currently.

“If the parents are not willing to keep them in the containment zone, they can have a choice to send their children to other dzongkhags,” Lyonpo said.

However, for Classes PP-III, the ministry would be proposing the National Task Force chairperson, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering, to allow students to stay with their parents and continue to have a regular contact teaching in the schools.

The proposal is being made after the ministry was advised also to keep PP-III students in the containment zone, including the new PP enrolment students for 2021.

Lyonpo said that the ministry had not submitted the proposal yet and this would be a request from the ministry as decided on humanitarian ground for children and parents’ sake. “We’re still discussing this. We would ensure all the health protocols are strictly followed.”

However, lyonpo added that the decision would depend on the task force, and the ministry will have to follow their advice, which will be based on risk assessment.

As for the two private schools in Phuentsholing, which has more than 700 students, the ministry will also be submitting a provisional proposal and discuss on whether to let them allow to study in Phuentsholing.

The same will also apply to daycare centres and Early Child Care and Development Centres if the government decides to reopen by next year.

However, Lyonpo said that respective schools should wait for circulars from the ministry. “There’ll be glitches, but I’m sure it will work out, as we don’t have an option. We’re just following the advice from the health ministry.”

There are one lower secondary school, one higher secondary and two middle secondary schools in Phuentsholing with almost 500 staff. As for the teachers, they would be sent to other schools based on teacher requirement.

Lyonpo added that the decision is subjected to change and would depend on the situation in Phuentsholing. “The decision was also taken given Phuentsholing being a major export and import hub where the risk is more than other border towns. If it continues to remain as high risk, we’ll have to continue with the same decision for 2022 academic session too.”

The ministry earlier relocated 1,580 Class X and XII students and teachers to other schools in Punakha and Wangdue in September after the lockdown.