Parents have expressed both support and fears over COVID-19 transmission as schools in Phnom Penh reopened yesterday after temporary closures due to the ‘November 3 incident’.
Suong Kim Heng, a 52-year-old hotel manager, said she was happy that the Ministry of Education had announced the reopening of the schools.
“I am glad that my children and other students can go back to school now,” she said. “But, I am still worried about COVID-19.”
Kim Heng, who has a son and a daughter studying at high school, said the online classes that replaced lessons when schools were closed, were not effective.
“Sometimes, my children secretly played videogames while they were supposed to be studying,” she said. “They were distracted by the environment at home and tended to play more than study.”
She said that she believes COVID-19 would not pose any threat to the students and teachers at school and that the vaccine will soon be available in Cambodia.
Heng Heang, a 55-year-old motor taxi driver, agreed.
He said he has a daughter in Grade 8 and hopes she will pass her exam to go to junior high school.
“If she continues to study at home, I am afraid that she will not pass her exam,” he said, adding: “It is a good thing that the school is open again.”
Heang said he hoped the school would follow the measures put forward by the Ministries of Health and Education to make sure that the students will be completely safe.
“Parents should also regularly remind their children to wash their hands and to wear masks when they go to school,” he said.
An Sovan, a 60-year-old librarian, said he thought the quality of education in Cambodia would be affected if the schools stayed closed.
“Cambodia is a member of Asean. Cambodian students will not be able to compete with other nationalities for jobs if they cannot study properly,” he said.
However, Sovan said the Ministry of Education should continue to prioritise the prevention of COVID-19 transmission and that students should properly protect themselves.
“Education is important, but health is more important,” he said.
Tum Chita, a 45-year-old journalist who specialises in health care and sanitation reporting, said she was worried that young students can not follow hygiene and sanitation procedures at schools.
“I don’t think my nephews and nieces can properly clean their hands and wear masks when they go to school,” she said. “So, I hope the teachers will help them.”
She said it was funny that schools were closed and then opened again because of COVID-19.
“It’s like COVID-19 is playing hide and seek with human beings,” she joked. “However, human beings will be able to catch and kill it soon.”
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization have issued the “Live Normally With New Lifestyle” instructions for Cambodian people. The instructions remind people to follow these practices: frequently clean your hands; cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze; avoid touching your face with your hands; reduce visits to crowded places and minimise your stay in enclosed places; maintain at least a 1.5 metre distance from others; frequently clean all objects that you touch with soap and alcohol; stay away from others if you feel sick and try to get treatment if needed.