Schools in Thailand are forcing students to learn and play in makeshift plastic cubicles to comply with extreme social distancing measures.
Thai children in kindergarten at the Wat Khlong Toey School in Bangkok, which has been reopened for a month, study behind perspex boxes and play with toys alone in screened-in areas.
The green light was given for schools in the country to reopen at the start of July with a series of strict measures in place.
Authorities recommended class sizes are restricted to 20-25 students while doorknobs, desks and other areas at risk of spreading infection be sanitized frequently throughout the day.
When students arrive at school teachers hand them face masks to wear throughout the day, while face shields are provided in some cases – as an extra measure.
When Wat Khlong Toey School was forced to shutter its doors in mid March due to Thailand’s emergency decree and lockdown, the administration and teachers prepared measures to ensure a safe reopening.
By installing sinks and soap dispensers outside of each classroom, creating social distancing screens in classrooms and lunch areas and installing hand sanitizer and temperature scanners at the entry the school has been open for a month and has had zero cases of COVID-19.
At Sam Khok school, about 31 miles north of Bangkok, nearly 5,000 students were made to self-quarantine at home for 15-days prior to the re-start in July as an extra precaution, Principal Chuchart Thiengtham said.
Students must also have their temperatures checked and a facial recognition scanner automatically sends a message to parents, he said.
The school has turned cardboard ballot boxes used in elections into partitions to ensure social distancing between desks.
‘I feel good studying behind the box because it makes me feel safer returning to school,’ said student Kanlaya Srimongkhol.
There have been 58 people in Thailand killed by coronavirus and 3,351 infections – a low toll considering it became the first country outside China to detect an infection in mid-January.
But the country has delayed plans for a ‘travel bubble’ agreement with certain countries as new cases rises in parts of Asia.
‘We are delaying discussion of travel bubble arrangements for now given the outbreak situation in other countries,’ Thailand’s coronavirus taskforce spokesman, Taweesin Wisanuyothin, told Reuters.
China, Australia and Hong Kong have all reported rising coronavirus figures and in late July Vietnam detected its first locally transmitted cases since April.