Currently, there has been 31 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Taiwan so far. The latest confirmed patient is an 11-year old student in New Taipei City. As the student had attended a cram school during the winter holidays, New Taipei Mayor are now ordering all cram schools to enforce the same disease prevention measures as public schools.
Students have returned to schools at the beginning of a new semester. An owner of after-school classes, or cram schools, has opened up the window to get some fresh air in the class room. The school has also prepared 200 spare surgical masks to provide to children in case they happen to forget to bring their own. New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi has reiterated the importance of all after-school classes and daycare centers to have all attendees wear masks in enclosed spaces.
If schools don't comply with our health standards, I'll make sure to rectify the issue. If the situation is serious, I'll order them to suspend recruitment. There's no wiggle room on this issue.
Schools found to have not complied with the city's health standards will be subject to punishment, including the possibility of having their operating license revoked. Chen Chyun-hsiang, director of the New Taipei After-School Class Association, said that all school owners and operators are willing to comply with the city's health policy and will do their best to implement disease prevention measures. However, Chen said, the prospect of a severe punishment has brought much pressure to the school owners.
Some students, especially those at the high school level, have very strong personalities. They very often don't follow the teachers' instructions. If the city government would fine a cram school immediately upon finding a student's violation of health policies, this would bring much pressure to the school owners.
Our association sent a mass-email on January 30 to all the cram schools in the city asking all teaching staff and students to wear masks all the time. This has drawn some backlash from parents. Honestly, this makes me question whether we have the authority to have a say in matters like this.
Chen Chyun-hsiang said the fact that the latest confirmed case of COVID-19 patient is an 11-year old who had attended cram school has drawn concerns from some parents. So far, there hasn't been a large number of parents who canceled classes, though some school owners have been told by certain parents that their children won't attend classes for now. The school owners have called on the city government to reconsider the severity of their punishment, since like many sectors, the cram schools industry are already suffering from ongoing epidemic.