As of April 11, 237 schools in 18 counties and cities in Taiwan have school-wide or partial classes suspended due to COVID-19. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung confirmed that in the future, the criteria for large-scale class suspension will be relaxed to ensure students' education right.
The children were taken to their school to pick up things and left immediately. Only disinfection personnel were on the campus. Hualien Ming Yih Primary School suspended classes from the 12th to the 15th because four students were confirmed with COVID-19.
Wu Hui-chen, Principal, Hualien Ming Yih Primary School: “We are trying to avoid the risk of this virus spreading. We sent out our notice to parents at 10 p.m. last night, which I think is a bit rushed I guess.”
The number of COVID-19 cases in the country is on the rise, and the number of schools and kindergartens that have to suspend classes will also increase. The current criteria for a school-wide suspension are if teachers and students in more than two classes are diagnosed with the virus. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung confirmed that these criteria will be relaxed.
Chen Shih-chung, Minister of Health and Welfare: “The basic concept will be more focused on a class as a unit. A school-wide suspension will only take place after large-scale classes are suspended. We will try not to interfere with normal teaching.”
Using a class as a unit, new guidelines will try not to affect normal teaching. Chen said that the details will be announced by the Ministry of Education. According to what we have learned, the Education Ministry will raise the standard for a school-wide suspension when confirmed cases or those in close contact with confirmed cases are found in one-third or more of the school's classes.
Ke Kuan-ming, Secretary, Affiliated Senior High School of National Normal University: “Suppose he needs to relax regulations. Maybe it should be those that come in close contact with a confirmed case. They can just do online classes and teaching. This may have less impact.”
The Ministry of Education invited directors of various counties and cities' education bureaus and departments to discuss on the 11th. Tainan City Education Bureau Director Cheng Hsin-hui said that everyone agrees with the adjustment. But the epidemic situation and tension level vary from place to place. Tainan City will fine-tune its regulations according to the current plan.
Cheng Hsin-hui, Director, Education Bureau, Tainan City: “Originally, the entire school would suspend in-person classes. Or, we can suspend portions of the school that have been infected on a relatively large scale for about one to three days. Tainan may suspend in-person classes for two days.”
Cheng emphasized that there is no "one-size-fits-all" formula in terms of class suspension guidelines. It should also take into account the psychological feelings of parents. If there is a positive diagnosis and contact tracing and quarantine are not strict, parents may also ask for their child to stay home to wait and see. Tainan City will cooperate with the MOE's guidance and hopes the central government will respect the fine-tuning measures taken by the local government.