The government has decided to reopen schools, institutes and colleges starting 1st July. The educational institutions were closed for almost three months in the country, and for almost four months in Thimphu, Paro and Punakha. After repeated meetings and discussions with the experts on reopening of educational institutions, the government decided to reopen classes for grades X and XII and final year students.
Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said classes will be resumed for grades X and XII as it is critical for them to go to higher levels where they have to choose their subject specialization and colleges. So it was very important for the government to make a decision for these students and it was finally decided to reopen schools for class X and XII in the 20 dzongkhags.
Classes VII, VIII, IX and XI will resume in the subsequent phases, about which the government will announce in time, especially after studying how classes X and XII manage in a month’s time.
Lyonchhen also said the students in pre-primary until Class VI will not undergo campus education this year. When the government decided there will not be campus education for pre-primary students it does not mean that the students should not be studying or learning. They will continue with online and other teaching modalities prepared by Ministry of Education. The government has also requested the education ministry to teach these students only the important subjects and not the entire syllabus. The students will be assessed based on key learning through a smart system designed by the ministry because in the event of local transmission, it is the children in the lower classes that are at higher risks, for being unable to understand and follow the COVID-19 safety norms.
Although delayed, Royal University Bhutan (RUB) will ensure final year students resume campus study and prepare for graduation, while first and second year students will continue online classes and adopted assessments.
Subsequently, intakes in civil service, corporate offices and private sector will follow undisrupted.
Similarly, all classes of technical and vocational education training (TVET) institutes will start from the specified date. Since all institutes operate on campus with boarding facilities, and the need to train on site, TVET institutes are safe to resume under present circumstances. Private technical and vocational institutes, including driving and tailoring, are allowed to operate since they conduct classes in small numbers without protracted contact.
Once the classes resume in all the educational institutions, all students on campuses are required to wear facemasks. Lyonchhen said although there is no local transmission but wearing facemasks would really reduce in transferring the virus to others, in case there is local transmission. School administrations and management of institutes and colleges are to keep up with COVID-19 safety and prevention guidelines and protocols on campus.
Meanwhile, Bhutan continues to remain in its highest preventive mode. Should there be any untoward development, the government will immediately step in with strong measures, said the PM. In subsequent phases, the government will review and inform, in about a month’s time, of its considerations on other restrictions, gauging from developments on the ground.
For reopening of classes VII, VIII, IX and XI, the government is also exploring the possibility of allowing students come to schools in separate groups on alternate days of the week to discourage crowding.