Taiwan needs class suspension standards in event of coronavirus outbreak

Wuhan coronavirus unpredictability makes it tricky to design guidelines for schools

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Students wear masks in during class at the Dinh Cong secondary school in Hanoi.

Students wear masks in during class at the Dinh Cong secondary school in Hanoi. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — With the new semester set to start next week for middle and elementary schools, the Taipei City Government has called for a set of unified class suspension standards in the event of an outbreak of the coronavirus.

According to Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), the capital of Taiwan will follow guidelines established during the SARS epidemic in the absence of new ones, reported UDN. He made a case for the publication of new standards from the central government.

Under the guidelines established in the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic, a 14-day suspension will be imposed on any class that has one confirmed case. If two or more classes report confirmed cases within one week, the whole school will be forced to close for 14 days, said the Department of Education.

Nevertheless, the unpredictable nature of the Wuhan virus (COVID-19), including asymptomatic infections, has made it a challenge for policymakers to draft standards based on which to halt or resume class.

The city will implement an anti-disease mechanism after school starts on Feb. 25. Students will be required to self-monitor their health conditions and have temperatures taken at home. Individuals who fail to do so will have their temperatures measured at the gate, and those registering 37.5 or higher degrees Celsius will be asked to put on a face mask and taken to health centers.

The authorities will conduct spot checks at middle and elementary schools to ensure sound preparedness against the spread of the coronavirus, said DOE. The schools are also advised to postpone international exchange programs at least until the end of April, according to the report.