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Mixed reactions to school closures

Rhea Mae Soco / Khmer Times Share:
Students leave Phnom Penh Thmey High School on Monday after it was ordered closed due to the community outbreak. KT/Tep Sony

Parents and students have expressed their dismay and frustration at the two-week closure order for all schools in Phnom Penh and Kandal province due to the “February 20 Community Incident”.

However, schools have shown confidence that the shift to online classes will be handled well.

A mother of three, Bopha Ath, had only one word to say: “Again?”

Ath said she had problems during the previous closures, as she had to do all of the house work and take care of her small children at the same time.

“Two weeks is still a long way to go and I will be crazy all these days trying to take care of my kids and do the housework at the same time,” she said, while admitting that not going to school is the safest option given the current COVID-19 situation.

On the other hand, a mother named Som Mari, whose children go to public school in Phnom Penh, shared on social media her opinion that she would have liked her children to not even have gone to school on Monday.

“It is good that the Ministry of Education decided to close the schools temporarily. However, for me, it’s a bit late. Schools should have been closed right after the February 20 incident was discovered,” she said.

Although she was happy that her children would stay at home, she still hopes they will be able to return after two weeks, unlike the “November 28 Community Incident” that lasted for one month.

Grade 12 student Aidan expressed his frustration. According to him, the closures have delayed him finishing his education.

“I am so excited to finish my high school education and pursue to my dream degree for a higher education. But with all this suspension due to COVID-19, it has just delayed everything: delayed our graduation and delayed our wish to go to a university,” he said.

President and vice chancellor of the University of Puthisastra (UP) professor Ian Findlay said that while it is very disappointing that students across Cambodia will again suffer because of the campus closure, all of their classes and exams will continue online.

“UP can easily switch back and forth to online learning as UP offers 13 training courses for staff and 12 for students to maximise the benefits from online. Since the end of March 2020, UP has continued to deliver almost 35,000 hours of online learning including UPOP, UP’s own online Learning Management system,” he said.

He added that students overwhelmingly enjoy online learning, however, the main problem seems to be poor internet connection.

Invictus International School Phnom Penh has informed parents and students that despite the temporary closure announcement, classes will still continue online.

The principal Clive Swale said: “The whole team at Invictus International School Phnom Penh understands the need to be vigilant and to stay safe during these trying times.  We are well prepared for a quick and seamless transition to online learning, whenever it is required.”

He added that they have excellent programmes and resources in place, combined with a team of fully qualified and experienced teachers.

Zion International School of Phnom Penh said that it is committed to providing a quality education, whether in class or online.

“We will continue to provide daily Zoom sessions, recorded lessons and homework packs until we can reopen the campus,” it said.

Aii Language Center has also informed parents, via Facebook, that it is very much prepared for the sudden shift to online learning again.

“A careful and well-prepared plan is the key to the success of online classes,” it said.

The Ministry of Education has ordered all public and private schools in Phnom Penh and Kandal province to be temporarily closed over the February 20 Community Incident.

In a statement issued Monday evening, Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron said the COVID-19 “February 20 Community Incident” is more serious and complicated compared to the “November 28 Community Incident”.

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