Cambodia reopened public schools across the kingdom on Monday after the first community outbreak of COVID-19 was over late last year.

In a message to mark the new academic years 2020-2021, Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen urged all schools to strictly adhere to the safety measures set by the Ministry of Health.

Students line up to have their hands sanitized before entering the classroom at Bak Touk High School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 11, 2021. Cambodia reopened public schools across the kingdom on Monday after the first community outbreak of COVID-19 was over late last year. Image: Xinhua

He said both teachers and students must wear face masks, have their temperature checked, wash hands frequently and keep a social distance of 1.5 meters from each other.

“The Ministry (of Education), relevant institutions, local authorities and people must closely cooperate with the Ministry of Health to ensure health safety and education on hygiene, and to prevent the COVID-19 from spreading to the academic institutions,” Hun Sen said.

Students return to school in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 11, 2021. Cambodia reopened public schools across the kingdom on Monday after the first community outbreak of COVID-19 was over late last year. Image: Xinhua

At the Bak Touk High School in capital Phnom Penh, students wearing face masks queued for temperature checks and hand washing with alcohol before being allowed to enter their classrooms.

Khat Sarong, the school’s deputy principal, said the school has properly followed the health measures introduced by the Ministry of Health.

“We have prepared all safety measures including hand washing facilities, face mask wearing and social distancing,” he told Xinhua. “We have routinely advised them on these health measures.”

Wearing a face mask properly, Sea Manita, a ninth grade student said she was very happy to go back to school after months of closure due to COVID-19.

Students have their hands sanitized at the Chaktomouk Primary School in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Jan. 11, 2021. Cambodia reopened public schools across the kingdom on Monday after the first community outbreak of COVID-19 was over late last year. Image: Xinhua

“I feel so happy to return to school because studying with teachers in class is much better than learning online,” she told Xinhua. “I suggest that all students wear face masks and wash hands with alcohol before entering the school.”

Private schools reopened last week.

Cambodia has seen success in controlling the spread of COVID-19. The Southeast Asian country has reported a total of 392 confirmed cases to date, with zero deaths and 374 recoveries, according to the Ministry of Health.

XINHUA | PHNOM PENH

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