Myanmar: School Amid The Pandemic

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Hailey Aung & Allyna Huang

Reopening schools has been an important topic that people have been concerned about. One country has solved this problem. Myanmar is a country in South East Asia and is considered as one of the world’s least developed countries. It has the longest ongoing civil war and rumors of a genocide yet they’re still dealing very well with the corona-virus. Myanmar only has a few hundred cases, a total of 361, with only 6 deaths and 318 recoveries. As a third world country, Myanmar has been dealing with the pandemic and the reopening of schools far better than many others.

The school system works a bit different from the United States. The required education finishes with tenth grade and high schools do not have eleventh and twelfth grade. Since summer is from March to May, the school year starts in June and ends in February. This school year started later than usual this year as there were many precautions and testings needed. The first day of high schools was July 21; elementary and middle schools are planning to reopen two weeks after seeing how high schools are doing. As there’s a lack of hospitals and supplies, there were even some schools that were used as hospital wards for covid-19 patients. Overall, there were a plethora of extra measures needed to take before a school can reopen.

Starting from July, schools all over Myanmar were graded for their cleanliness, supplies, and knowledge of the corona-virus. Only half of the schools, 3999 out of over 7000, got an A grade and were granted permission to reopen. When they did reopen, many teachers said that it was much easier to teach the curriculum than before due to the changes. There was less chatting because of the six feet distance rule and it was easier to watch the class since there’s only 20 students now unlike 60 in the past. Another big change is how often the students go to school. Due to the lack of space, classrooms, and teachers, most students now only go to school every other week. For some cases, students only go to school for 3 days in a span of 2 weeks. Furthermore, there were other precautions taken in the school campus.

All teachers, students, and staff are required to wear face masks; face shields are a must in the school compound, but students can take them off when they get into the classroom. Temperature screenings are done before students get onto the school campus. School canteens are no longer open and students are given specific time sections to arrive at school, so that there won’t be any overcrowding. Looking at all the rules implemented above, there are a lot of precautions made for the school to reopen. However, if other countries follow this, the students may feel unsafe, as there might be many cases in that country. As Myanmar is a country with very few cases, students don’t feel they are in big risk.

There are so many factors that will decide on how a country would be affected by the corona-virus, and in which ways schools would reopen. Myanmar is just an example of a country that has schools reopened amid the pandemic. Of course, if a country is unable to control the pandemic well before reopening, it would be very dangerous to try to reopen schools. Many other places, such as Hong Kong, also reopened schools for a while. However, there was a rise in cases, so the schools closed down again. In the United States, some states decided to reopen and ended up with a 40% rise in cases. As school begins to start in Fremont and Alameda County, these examples of why it is crucial to take many precautions is incredibly important.

(Written as of 08/25/2020)

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