The Legislative Yuan recently proposed stopping school for high schools and below till the end of the semester as another solution for COVID outbreaks for parents and schools. School officials agree with prolonging suspension of schools to save the trouble from going back and forth with decisions.
Government officials are still debating with schools and parents on how students should continue with school while COVID-19 infections remain high. The Organic Laws and Statute Bureau under the Legislative Yuan recently suggests to suspend school for high schools and below until the end of May or even till the end of the Spring Semester to lower the risk of cross-infections and to save from the trouble of going back-and-forth. One school official agrees that school should be off for more than just three days if a student in the class is found to have COVID.
Chen Ching-i, Deputing Chairperson, Principals Association of R.O.C.: “What usually happens is when you take a three-day break, another student will be found with COVID on the fourth day when everyone comes back to school, so then we need to take another three-day break. This is almost like stopping school altogether, and when students come back to school after the breaks, it creates another chance for transmission.”
Over 80,000 students have so far been confirmed with COVID. Over half are kindergarteners and elementary school students. The KMT criticizes how COVID-prevention regulations for schools keep changing, which leave parents and schools feeling confused and unsafe. The government's decision earlier on the 3X3 seating map in class for student quarantine also came under heavy criticism. Schools are also still in need for more rapid test kits.
Wan Mei-ling, Legislator (KMT): “The Ministry of Education should harden up and really push for getting more rapid test kits for schools. I demand the government to provide all schools with enough rapid test kits for their students.”
Victor Wang, who leads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) Medical Response Division, said that Taipei and New Taipei have not been cooperating with the government in COVID-19 prevention plans. Both city mayors denied such comments. Wang then rephrased and posted on his Facebook saying that he wasn't specifically pointing fingers and stressed that COVID prevention plans go step-by-step. One shouldn't give up so quickly. New Taipei City Mayor Hou Yu-ih said the government must learn to listen to the local communities.
Hou Yu-ih, New Taipei City Mayor: “Three weeks ago I mentioned that we need to change the current quarantine plan to just seven days of self-health management. We discussed yesterday as well; we hope that the seven days can be applied to individuals who have already received three shots of vaccines. Remember, we need to build up the public's confidence. We want people to know that they can manage their own health in dealing with the disease.”
Hou further explained that there should be separate COVID prevention strategies for high-risk and low-risk schools and principals should be the commanders. He said he will continue to discuss and work on bringing schools and medical teams together to fight the peaking pandemic.