Schools won’t record absences due to fever in student files: MOE

The MOE has asked schools to provide disinfectant alcohol, face masks and thermometers on school buses, and to strengthen precautionary measures at all campus gatherings. (CNA)
The MOE has asked schools to provide disinfectant alcohol, face masks and thermometers on school buses, and to strengthen precautionary measures at all campus gatherings. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s Ministry of Education (MOE) on Wednesday said absences from school due to fever or respiratory symptoms will not be reflected on students’ attendance records, amid efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus when students return from winter vacation on Feb. 25.

In a letter to Taiwan’s city and county departments of education, the ministry said it will adhere to outbreak prevention guidelines set by the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), which emphasize attendance policy as a key to stopping transmission of the virus.

According to the MOE, students with a body temperature reading over 37.5 degrees Celsius on a forehead thermometer, or 38 degrees on an ear thermometer, or who are experiencing other symptoms, will be asked not to attend school or seek medical treatment, and not have the absence counted on their record.

Students will also undergo daily body temperature screening upon arrival at school, where the same standards for defining a fever will apply, the MOE said.

On Tuesday, Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) explained that forehead thermometers use a 37.5 degree standard because they are external and tend to err on the low side.

Meanwhile, the MOE has asked schools to provide disinfectant alcohol, face masks and thermometers on school buses, and to strengthen precautionary measures at all campus gatherings.

To facilitate its prevention efforts, the MOE said Saturday that it is distributing 25,000 forehead thermometers, 84,000 liters of disinfectant alcohol and 6.45 million face masks to schools in advance of the spring semester.

In response to the coronavirus, the ministry decided earlier this month to delay the spring semester by roughly two weeks. Under the policy, the first day of classes for all elementary, junior high and senior high schools was delayed from Feb. 10 to Feb. 25, while the last day of the school year was moved from July 1 to July 14.

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