Environmental protection departments would disinfect campuses before the semester starts, while rules would include temperature checks at school entrances
By Lee I-chia / Staff reporter
The Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday announced the COVID-19 prevention and response measures for schools for the new semester, including the requirements for the suspension of classes, mandatory testing and disease-prevention leave.
The new semester starts on Tuesday next week for secondary and elementary schools, as well as preschools, Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said at the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) in Taipei.
Before school starts, local environmental protection departments would clean and disinfect school campuses, and schools have been asked to prepare masks, rapid test kits, thermometers and alcohol for disinfection, Pan said.
Photo: Screenshot from a Central Epidemic Command Center livestream
“We previously provided schools with about 600,000 rapid test kits per week, and this will be increased to 800,000 kits per week in the new semester,” he said, adding that the CECC continues to encourage school faculty members and students to get vaccinated before the new semester starts.
Once school starts, people would be required to have their temperatures checked at school entrances, Pan said, adding that faculty members and students “should not go to school if they have any illness.”
From Sept. 12, people who are diagnosed with or test positive for COVID-19 should isolate at home for seven days, and only return to school if they no longer have symptoms, he said.
Schools would offer rapid test kits to the classmates and teachers of confirmed cases, as well as other students or teachers who have had direct contact with them without wearing a mask for 15 minutes or more, Pan said, adding that if they test negative and have no symptoms, they are allowed to attend school, while those who have symptoms should seek medical attention.
“According to the CECC’s suggestion, classmates or teachers who are experiencing symptoms can take a rapid test immediately, but those who have no symptoms should take a rapid test on day two — with the day that the confirmed case tested positive for COVID-19 being day zero,” he said.
For universities, the new standards would be implemented when the new semester starts, Pan said.
They include seven days of isolation at home for people who are diagnosed with or test positive for COVID-19, he said, adding that people who have had direct contact with a confirmed case without wearing a mask for 15 minutes or more can go to school if they are asymptomatic and test negative using a rapid test funded by the university.
People who have had close contact with a confirmed case, but have worn a mask, are required to perform self-health monitoring, he said.
Local governments and the universities can adjust teaching methods according to the COVID-19 situation, but should discuss changes with the ministry’s response task force and protect students’ right to education, he added.
At any level of education, the roommates of a confirmed case would be considered “household members,” so they should practice seven-day home isolation or self-disease prevention, and are prohibited from attending in-person classes during the self-disease prevention period, Pan said.
Faculty members at all school levels who contract COVID-19 can take official leave or disease prevention isolation leave, while students can take disease prevention isolation leave if they have the virus, he said, adding that faculty members can take self-disease prevention leave if they are practicing self-disease prevention, and students who feel ill or have concerns can take disease prevention leave.
“The [ministry] strongly encourages everyone to avoid going to school if they feel ill,” Pan said, adding the different types of leave are being offered to reassure students and their parents that they do not need to go to school if they feel uncomfortable with the idea.
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