Top-level meeting to decide on reopening of schools next week

Thursday, 14 May 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



  • Priority is student safety: Education Minister
  • Says reopening of schools will be last step in normalising country
  • Schools to be sanitised, issued thermometers, and hand-washing facilities set up before restarting 
  • Decision on when to hold A/Ls still pending

By Nuwan Senarathna 

Top officials of the Education Ministry, led by Ministry Secretary N.H.M. Chithrananda, will meet next week to discuss and share ideas on the possibility of reopening schools while assuring safety of students in the midst of COVID-19. 

Education Minister Dullas Alahapperuma told Daily FT top officials of the Ministry and relevant health authorities will be present at the meeting and share ideas on how to reopen schools.

The Minister noted school would reopen once the country has fully tackled the COVID-19 outbreak and it will be the last step in normalising the country.  “As the Government we do not want any risk. The safety of children will be the Government’s priority. Therefore reopening of schools will be the last step of normalising the country,” he said. 

The Minister also declined to give a specific date, insisting they were still awaiting developments after most the public and private sector was allowed to return to work from Monday.  

Alahapperuma pointed out that given the situation, it would be impossible to give an exact timeline of when schools will be reopened. According to the Education Minister, the Ministry will also focus on how to cover lost education hours due to the early closure of schools, which led to holidays of more than two months.

“We will discuss ways to catch up the lost hours and how to cover syllabuses. 

However, that will be done according to the guidance of health officials. Nothing is more important than the safety of students, therefore we will have lengthy discussions next week on that.”

He noted that the Ministry was yet to make a final call about the GCE Advanced Level examination, which is expected to be delayed. Schools will be sanitised and principals were advised to keep school buildings closed for four days following sanitisation, he added.

Education Minister also said that schools will be provided with thermometers to check body temperature of students. 

“Every school will have hand-washing facilities and the number of students in the school will be decided based on the capacity of hand washing facilities at that particular school,” he said. 

The Education Minister earlier said classes will likely restart on a staggered basis with Advanced Level students returning to school first and other grades to follow gradually later.