The Ministry of Education should hold discussions and prepare for a possible reopening of schools in September, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) said yesterday.
Lin, who is a member of the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee, made the remarks during an online news conference held by the KMT-affiliated National Policy Foundation to discuss recommendations for a potential return to in-person teaching following the summer break.
Since May 19, schools at all levels have been ordered to suspend in-person instruction as part of a nationwide level 3 COVID-19 alert.
Photo: Chen Yun, Taipei Times
The new school year is to begin on Sept. 1 for elementary, junior-high and high schools.
With the new academic year approaching, the ministry still appears to be fixed on the question of relief, Lin said.
“No one is discussing whether schools will open next semester,” she added.
Due to the lack of discussion, not enough preparations have been made for a return to school, she said.
One of the most fundamental issues with such a plan is that the COVID-19 vaccine coverage rate in the nation is not high enough, Lin said.
Even if schools were to reopen, multiple plans would be needed to respond to different situations that could occur, she said.
Furthermore, as the size of each school building is different, a single plan should not be applied to all schools across the nation, she said.
While the hope is that schools would reopen in September, as long as vaccination rates remain lower than desired, the ministry must consider different possibilities and devise plans, she said.
The ministry should also involve teachers and parents in discussions of its plans, she added.
Lo Hui-chun (羅惠群), vice chairman of the Taiwan Counseling Psychologist Union, spoke of the importance of public mental health awareness and called on people to place greater importance on the issue.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Education could consider hiring more educators and counselors, he said.
Many parents, either out of concern for their children’s studies or because they cannot look after their children due to work, look forward to the resumption of in-person instruction, said Yang Yi-feng (楊益風), chairman of a national educators’ union.
While teachers also look forward to teaching in person again, many of them also believe that schools are not ready to reopen, he said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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