Students returning from high-risk areas to be quarantined

Yangchen C Rinzin 

Classes for X and XII re-opened from yesterday except for schools in Sarpang, Samtse and Samdrupjongkhar thromdes, which are still considered as a high-risk area.

Schools in the south will have to wait until the “unlocking” procedures are complete to begin classes.

However, students residing inside the Royal Bhutan Army and Royal Bhutan Police areas will have to wait to join schools since the two institutions are still operating in self-containment, according to the education ministry’s director, Kinley Gyeltshen.

He said that the ministry had informed principals and teachers to keep following up so that if situation improved after following government’s directives on relaxation, they could ask the students to join schools.

Since the two institutions worked on the frontline and were exposed, they are kept under self-containment since  the nationwide lockdown and the associated risk. They will operate under self-containment until September 17 as of now.

Classes for IX and XI will begin from September 21 where schools have remained closed since March.

With many students back home and residing in various dzongkhags, Kinley Gyeltshen said that respective dzongkhag’s Covid-19 taskforce would help students register and travel back to school.

However, he said that those students returning from high-risk to low risk would have to undergo seven-day mandatory quarantine as per the health ministry’s protocol. After seven days, a Covid-19 test would be carried out.    

Kinley Gyeltshen said that students travelling from high-risk to high-risk areas or low-risk to low-risk areas would not be quarantine or undergo Covid-19 testing. 

Students residing in high-risk areas, especially in Phuentsholing, would be sent directly to school after completion of the quarantine period. Buses would be arranged, but students will have to bear the bus fare.

Students from the red zone containment areas in Phuentsholing will also be allowed to register and travel after a week of quarantine, as per the Covid-19 taskforce notification.

This would also apply to students who would be returning to colleges outside. But students of Gedu College of Business Administration would be quarantined in Gedu while students from red zone containment area will be quarantined in Phuentsholing.

The ministry did not have a record of the total number of students stranded in other dzongkhags.

Meanwhile, students of Phuentsholing were relocated yesterday to Punakha and Wangdue after students and staff tested negative for Covid-19.

Education ministry’s officiating director-general, Kinley Gyeltshen, said that these two dzongkhags were selected following several meetings and based on the space and weather. “If we move them to a cold place, the students would not be able to adjust. The schools also have adequate space to accommodate students and teachers.”

Students of Norbu Academy, a private school, will be sent to Dorokha Central School in Samtse where the ministry will arrange bedding and food.

Kinley Tshering said that the ministry would also provide a stipend of Nu 1,500 like public school students, which would be used for food.

The examination for Classes X and XII will be in March and Classes IX and XI in February.

However, the academic session for Classes PP-VIII will be completed by November. The education ministry will announce enrolment for new students in Class PP subsequently.

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