Phub Dem

Except for Shaba HSS, schools in Paro will reopen from today for classes 9 to 12.

The dzongkhag was declared green zone on Tuesday.

Shaba HSS will open on February 1, because 18 students had tested positive for the virus earlier.

Paro’s chief education officer, Ngawang Dorji, said that the health officials recommended delaying the reopening of the school to ensure safety as Shaba was once a red zone.

After a comprehensive consultation with the principals, health officials and dzongkhag education sector, it was decided to cautiously reopen schools as the exams for these students are pending.

Ngawang Dorji said it was essential to bring day scholars into the schools cautiously. Boarders are already on the campus.

Karma Academy, a private high school in Shaba, is all set to reopen the school.

According to principal, Dorji Tshering, students stranded in Thimphu had already completed a week’s quarantine and would join the school today after testing for the infection.

He said that the students residing in red zones in Paro such as Shaba were undergoing seven-day quarantine. “They will join the school after completion of the quarantine period.”

He said the school was equipped with handwashing facilities and standard operating procedures as per the directives from the ministry of health and dzongkhag taskforce.

Although social distancing is a challenge facing the school, Dorji Tshering said that the school set different timing for recesses to avoid crowding. “Facemasks are compulsory and common areas will be disinfected regularly.”

Schools with classes 9 to 12 chose to schedule students of different classes on alternate days until February 3.

This, according to Shari HSS principal, Bak Bir Rai, was to ensure strict safety protocols in school at least for a week considering the incubation period.

Starting February 4, all students will resume their classes.

Bak Bir Rai said that class 10 and 12 students would have to report early as they have to appear for board exams by the end of February.

He said that the school wouldn’t have a significant problem following the health protocols due to fewer students than other schools. “Each class will house around 15 to 17 students to avoid crowding.”

He said that the school was equipped with necessary facilities. “Everything is in place as per the guidelines, but we are cautious.”

Bak Bir Rai said that the students would be provided with psychosocial support programmes to motivate them and to refrain from leaving the school.

With students coming in from Bonday, Olathang, Neymizampa, Lango and other places, he said that school had to be extremely cautious. “Three private buses will ferry the students. Students without facemask will not be allowed to enter the bus.”