AP PHOTOS: Preparing to welcome Thai preschoolers back

AP PHOTOS: Preparing to welcome Thai preschoolers back

BANGKOK (AP) – Last month, Darunee Khedkhow arrived at the Makkasan Kindergarten in Bangkok every weekday at 8:00 AM, just as she has done as a teacher for the past 12 years.

But for Darunee and her 13 fellow teachers, it has hardly been business as usual.

Since mid-March, Makkasan Kindergarten – like all schools in Thailand – has been closed for classes as part of the government’s efforts to fight the corona virus.

In early June, as Thailand eased restrictions on the coronavirus, teachers were asked to return to school to prepare for classes to resume this week.

So on Wednesday, young children will return to Makkasan Kindergarten for the first time since the pandemic prompted the government to close schools and childcare centers and development centers for children. School reopening is nationwide, for all levels of public and private schools.

For the past month, the Makkasan teachers have been cooking meals, putting together food parcels and distributing them to families in the local community, sandwiched between an old railway and a khlong, one of Bangkok’s urban canals.

“When we deliver food, our students say they miss school, they want to come back,” said Darunee.

The teachers are preparing to welcome students back to a school where many of the routines will be different than before. Students and teachers must wear face masks, the floors will have social distance markings, and hand washing stations will be set up.

The teachers, many of whom are from the local community, are eager to have the children back in their class. Yet they recognize the challenges that social distance requirements for active preschool children bring in a compact facility in a densely populated community.

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