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Ministry allows public universities to reopen with COVID-19 measures

Taing Rinith / Khmer Times Share:
Students at Royal University of Phnom Penh are excited to return to class with strict measures to prevent COVID-19. KT/Siv Channa

The Ministry of Education yesterday announced that it has given a green light to public universities all over the country to reopen after months of closure to prevent the outbreak of COVID-19.

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“The ministry from this day onward will allow all public higher education institutions to resume operation, under the condition that they strictly respect and practise the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and other existing rules and regulations [related to preventing the spread of the virus],” the announcement said.

Ros Soveacha, Education Ministry spokesman, said yesterday that each university must follow the health measures set by the Ministry of Health and the WHO.

Heng Vanda, Board Director of Higher Education Association, said the SOPs contain guidelines to facilitate day-to-day management and administration for all schools and universities in the Kingdom in the context of COVID-19.

“Both professors and students have to wear masks, bring hand sanitisers with them and practise social distancing,” he said. “They even have to bring food from home while there cannot be more than 25 people in one class.”

Soy Nary, an 18-year-old nursing student at the University of Health Science, told Khmer Times that she could not wait to go back to class with her friends.

“We have been studying online, but we have found it very difficult and hardly understand anything due to many problems, such as a poor internet connection,” Nary said.

“I’m not afraid of COVID-19 because we will be wearing masks, have our temperature checked before going into the classroom and we will practise good hygiene.”

The reopening of the state-run universities is the latest move by the government in its effort to bring back students to physical classrooms after months of closure to prevent them from being infected and spreading the coronavirus.

In July, with guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education said it would be reopening schools in three stages based on their ability to deal with preventing the outbreak. About half a month later it released a list of 20 schools that would lead the country’s education system reopening.

Then in early September, Phase 2 of opening schools started when owners of private education institutes all agreed to follow the ministry’s advice on reopening schools and following standard measures. One week later, it was announced that schools across Cambodia are allowed to reopen for students, but only for  those from grades 9 to 12 students, while following strict health measures.

 

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