DILI, 1 June 2020 (TATOLI) – The Ministry of Education has ordered a clean of Timor-Leste’s schools, beginning this week, ahead of their reopening from COVID-19 shutdown.
Schools have been closed for two months as part of social distancing measures.
Timor-Leste has had no active cases of COVID-19 for more than two weeks, and has recorded no deaths.
The government last week approved extending the state of emergency decree for a third month, but with “a lot of flexibility”. That includes reopening schools, resuming religious services, and easing some restrictions on commercial trade.
“The Ministry of Education and Sport will announce the date of when the learning process to begin, after the Ministry of Health [has] approved the implementation standard for COVID-19 prevention in all schools,” Education Minister Dulce de Jesus Soares said in a press conference in Vila-Verde, Dili, on Monday.
Ms Soares said the ministries of Health and Education would inspect the schools to ensure they had adopted appropriate preventative measures before they would be allowed to accept students.
“To prevent transmission of COVID-19, the schools should prepare all the washing facilities, such as soap for all students, before [they can] enter the class,” she said.
Related news: Timor-Leste is Now Free of Active Cases of COVID-19
The new facilities can be funded by unspent budgets for March, April and May, as schools sat idle.
The Ministry of Education, along with INFORDEPE (National Institute for the Training of Teachers and Education Professionals) will also conduct mandatory training for teachers in Bobonaro, Covalima and Oé-Cusse Ambeno (RAEOA).
Those districts have been targeted because of their proximity to Indonesian West Timor (NTT), which the government sees as a major threat for COVID-19 transmission.
Seven schools in line for repairs
The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MEJD) will also distribute building materials to schools in Lautem, Baucau and Viqueque districts for much-needed repairs.
The National Director of School Social Action, Joaquim Martins, said floods and heavy rains that fell over 21 days in May damaged some seven schools: four in Baguia, three in Quelicai, and one in Baucau.
He said the materials such as nails, cement and zinc sheeting began being distributed today.
“EBF Ailafa School we observed already has three buildings that were totally destroyed,” he said.
First published May 31 in Tetum: Governu Husu ba Eskola Sira Hahú Halo Limpeza Jerál. See also: Governu Distribui Materiál Konstrusaun bá Eskola Públiku Hitu
Journalist: Agapito dos Santos
Editors: Robert Baird, Francisco Simões
Translation: Nelia Borges