Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar to Distribute 20 Million Face Masks, Shields to School Students, Staff

By Thiha Lwin 8 June 2020

NAYPYITAW—Myanmar’s Ministry of Education is planning to distribute over 20 million face masks and other disease-prevention items to students, teachers and other education staff as the ministry prepares to reopen schools on July 13.

The Ministry of Education on June 5 met with suppliers and business owners at the ministry’s offices in Naypyitaw to discuss quality and other requirements, and called for tenders to supply face masks, face shields and infrared thermometers.

The ministry plans to provide two cloth masks and one face shield each to every student and teacher, as well as approximately 75,000 thermometers to schools across the country.

“The protective measures are a must for tackling COVID-19. We would like to provide quality masks and face shields for about 10 million students,” said deputy director Dr. Tin Maung Win of the ministry’s Department of Basic Education.

There are about 9.7 million students and about 500,000 teachers at over 47,000 schools across Myanmar.

According to the ministry, the tender process will be fast-tracked given the urgency of the need to procure the items before the schools open.

The suppliers were informed of the design and quality specifications for the masks and other items at the meeting in Naypyitaw. Tender forms must be submitted along with samples by Tuesday.

A quality-control team will select the qualifying submissions on Wednesday, and the tender process will be conducted according to the usual procedures. The winning bidders will be given a deadline by which to deliver the protective items.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, basic education schools are opening about one-and-a-half months later than usual this year. Normally, schools across the country open on June 1.

However, this year, the Ministry of Education set July 13 as the opening date. From July 13-17, high schools will open first, followed by middle schools, with primary schools being the last to open.

To ensure that proper social distancing measures are observed, school schedules will vary depending on their student and teacher populations.

School have been classified in four groups—A, B, C and D. Group A schools are those with sufficient space to apply proper social distancing standards for all students and teachers.

Groups B, C and D do not enough space to practice social distancing with all students and teachers present. At these schools, students will be divided into groups and alternate between attending school for a week (or three days a week), and then staying at home for the same period.

Translated from Burmese by Zarni Mann

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