It’s a nerve-wracking week for school principals and teachers across Donegal as schools reopen their doors.
School staff are carefully planning their every step to protect students and staff from Covid-19. This year, the ‘back to school’ excitement comes with many new rules and systems.
But one Donegal principal has been in the thick of it for months already.
Martin Boyle, from Carrick, is Principal of Thewphaingarm Canadian Bilingual School in Bangkok. He had been living and working as a teacher in Thailand for almost 10 years, before taking on the leadership role in April.
Classes resumed at the school in July and, since then, Martin has a few lessons to share from his experience of masks, sanitizing and social distancing.
Martin tells Donegal Daily: “In Thailand, our school year starts in May and ends in February. So we started in May with online classes where we taught 4 classes per day online using our own Braincloud platform.
“Students were allowed to return on July 1st and the main rules have been: masks must be worn at all times, desks need to be 1.5m apart and hand sanitizing available in every classroom and part of the school.
“We also have social distancing points in our canteen. Our school has over 300 students ranging from 5 – 19 years old and about 50 teachers.”
No student or teacher has had any problem wearing a mask, Martin says.
Outside of school, Thailand has fared remarkably well during Covid-19. Masks were adopted early in March and the country has had just over 3,000 cases and 58 deaths out of a population of 70 million. Thailand has not recorded local transmission of Covid-19 in three months.
Masks have become the norm for many, and people have been unable to visit any shop or travel on any form of public transport without a mask since the outbreak.
Martin says: “It can be difficult at times, especially in 35C heat but you get used to it.”
Another side of Thailand’s response to Covid-19 has been a crackdown on travel. Normally a country of tourist hotspots, Thailand has been imposing a costly quarantine on international tourists.
“Most flights to and from Thailand have been cancelled and people wishing to enter have to undertake a 14 day quarantine in a government approved facility,” Martin explains.
“This costs anything from 1-2,000 euro for the 14 days.
“The lack of flights and tourists has however had a negative effect on the local tourism industries and places such as Phuket and Pattaya are struggling and has high unemployment. It is hoped that tourists will be allowed to return early next year.”
Martin himself is a former student Meenaneary NS and Carrick VS. He worked as a Laboratory Manager in London before making the move to Thailand in 2012.
For local school communities who are wondering what the next few weeks might hold, Martin has positive words to share from his experience as a Principal in these challenging times:
“It was a challenge because we didn’t know how our students, parents and teachers would react. But overall everybody has been very positive and flexible and made the transition easier.”Tags: