Govt. prepares education response plan ahead of school reopening

Children pose for a picture at the inauguration of Izzuddin School on January 12, 2020. (File Photo/Education Ministry)

Education Ministry has announced it has drafted an education response plan as Maldives prepares to reopen schools which have been closed for three months following the emergence of cases of the new coronavirus cases in the country.

The education response was drafted by the Education Ministry with technical support from the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

The Education Ministry has announced plans to reopen schools on July 1. Schools will reopen for students in the first grade and above in the atolls, and for students in the ninth grade and above in the capital Male’ City – which is experiencing a community spread of the coronavirus.

According to the Education Ministry, the education response plan covers five areas of focus. They are:

  • Safety of the schools environment
  • Continuity of education
  • Support to marginalized children
  • Health and safety
  • Improving the capacity to deal with threats and improving inter-agency relations

The education response plan is to be implemented in three phases. The third and last phase will begin after schools reopen.

The plan also establishes monitoring mechanisms which must be in effect to assess the extent and quality of the implementation process, and to ensure the continuity of the process.

Education Ministry has announced it will reopen schools with strict preventive measures including regular decontamination, and establishment of additional facilities to promote hygiene. Students will be required to wear face masks and will have their temperatures checked before being allowed into the school premises.

Maldives identified its first coronavirus case on March 7, and declared a state of public health emergency over the pandemic four days later on March 11.

The schools had been closed for midterm break at the time and had been scheduled to reopen on March 15. However, following the emergence of the coronavirus cases, the Education Ministry extended the midterm break, and the Director General of Public Health issued an order to close all schools and educational institutions in the country on March 22.

While coronavirus cases had initially been restricted to resorts and safaris, and later quarantine facilities holding inbound travelers, Male’ City identified its first coronavirus case on April 15, prompting a city-wide lockdown and a nationwide ban on nonessential travel.

Maldives has 2,120 confirmed coronavirus cases, out of which 1,677 patients have recovered and eight have died from complications.