For the past month, Darunee Khedkhow has arrived at Bangkok’s Makkasan community preschool at 8 a.m. each weekday, just as she has done for most of her past 12 years as a teacher.
But it has hardly been business as usual for Darunee and her 13 fellow teachers.
Since mid-March, the Makkasan preschool — like all schools in Thailand — has been closed for classes as part of the government’s efforts to battle the coronavirus.
At the start of June, when Thailand eased coronavirus restrictions, teachers were asked to come back to school to prepare for the resumption of classes, which will take place this week.
So on Wednesday, young children will return to the Makkasan preschool for the first time since the pandemic prompted the government to close schools, as well as daycare and child development centers. The reopening of schools is nationwide, for all levels of public and private schools.
Over the past month, the Makkasan teachers have cooked meals, assembled food parcels and distributed them to families in the local community, sandwiched between an old railway line and a khlong, one of Bangkok’s urban canals.
“When we deliver food, our students tell us they miss school, they want to come back,” Darunee said.
The teachers are preparing to welcome students back to a school where many of the routines will be different from before. Students and teachers will be required to wear face masks, the floors will have social distancing 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 classrooms. Still, they recognize the challenges posed by social distancing requirements for active preschoolers in a compact facility that’s located in a densely populated community.