With schools welcoming their students back for the new term amid ever-spreading novel coronavirus infections, the government hopes to detect COVID-19 cases at an early stage by rapid test kits to prevent infection clusters within schools.
The government’s measure, however, is not enough to dispel fears that the highly infectious delta variant of the coronavirus may spread among schoolchildren, and many within education are voicing concerns.
The central government will not ask for nationwide school closures for the new term after summer break. Instead, it will leave the decision up to local governments.
While schools in some areas have extended the summer holidays, schools are expected to reopen gradually.
The central government announced Wednesday that it will hand out antigen test kits for around 800,000 tests to schools throughout the country from early September.
The education ministry said that it will allow children to take the tests at the school infirmary if their parents cannot be at home due to work.
Teachers took to social media to voice concerns before the start of the school term, with some questioning what they should do if the test results come back positive, while others asked who will conduct the tests.
A group of incumbent teachers and others have said that they will be unable to handle the situation if they merely have the test kits.
The delta variant is believed to be more transmissible than the original coronavirus strain.
The tests will not guarantee that the spread of the coronavirus will be contained immediately after people are found to be infected with the virus.
There is a risk that parents who have not received coronavirus vaccinations may develop severe COVID-19 symptoms if their children bring home the virus from school.
“We can only prevent the spread of the coronavirus among children who are not at an age where they can receive vaccine shots through basic measures, including face masks and ventilation, and early detection by tests,” a government official said.
“We’ll cut off the infection route leading to children by having more teachers get vaccinated,” the official added.
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