Phnom Penh to Reopen Secondary Schools on September 15

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Students at Phnom Penh’s Chea Sim Boeng Keng Kang High School on November 9, 2020. (Tran Techseng/VOD)

Phnom Penh City Hall announced Thursday it will allow public and private secondary schools to reopen starting Wednesday, September 15, potentially ending nearly 18 months of on-and-off schooling for the capital’s students.

Phnom Penh governor Khuong Sreng met with city officials on Thursday to discuss the reopening of schools in the capital, with the local government deciding to open the more than 200 secondary schools offering grades 7 through 12 on September 15. All schools will be required to comply with municipality and Education Ministry guidelines.

“I will reopen from secondary school, meaning that from 12 years up, we allow them to go to school,” Sreng told VOD.

Kindergartens and primary schools will have to request to reopen, according to a statement from City Hall.

City Hall spokesperson Met Measpheakdey said the decision was taken because nearly all students aged 12 through 18 had been vaccinated.

“So [students] from age 12 to 18 years old who have already gotten vaccines from the government are from the 7th grade,” he said. “That’s why we decided to start from secondary school to grade 12.”

According to Health Ministry statistics, 86 percent of children aged under 18 have been vaccinated. Phnom Penh has reported nearly 100 percent vaccination among adults, and has now started offering booster shots.

Measpheakdey also posted on Facebook that there were more than 200 secondary schools in the city with 130,000 students.

Tbong Khmum and Prey Veng provinces were set to open schools on Monday, while Stung Treng was piloting in-person classes in select districts last week.

Students have relied on online and digital learning for the last 18 months, with lessons telecast on state television as well. However, unequal access to technology and resources has meant that many students, especially in rural areas, have not been able to keep up with their studies.

Schools were first closed in March 2020 and gradually reopened starting in August last year before being shuttered again in November after the first community outbreak of Covid-19 in the country. They then reopened in January only to be shut down in February when Phnom Penh saw a sharp rise in daily cases.

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