Fri, May 23, 2003 - Page 2 News List

School quarantines cause worry

PREVENTIVE MEASURES Deputy Mayor Ou Chin-der said 981 students in Taipei are under home quarantine and their parents are worried this will influence their studies

CNA , TAIPEI

The Taipei City Government is calling on the central government to review preventive measures against the spread of SARS in schools, saying that with so many students under home quarantine, the routine of educational establishments has been seriously affected.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Education on Wednesday showed that a total of 17,248 students around the nation were under home quarantine.

Of the total, only 3,964 were under Category A quarantine -- confinement ordered by local public health authorities for possible previous contact with suspected SARS patients -- and the rest were under preventive quarantine advised by schools because suspected SARS cases were found in their classes or schools.

The statistics showed that although only 115 suspected SARS cases were reported in Taiwan's schools, 62 schools have been partially or wholly placed in quarantine recess.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Ou Chin-der (歐晉德) said yesterday that in metropolitan Taipei, most of the 981 students in home quarantine are taking the action as a preventive measure as they didn't have direct contact with suspected SARS patients.

Thirty-nine classes in 24 elementary, secondary and high schools in Taipei City are in quarantine recess.

Many parents have expressed concern that the quarantine will affect regular studies, according to Ou.

In the wake of the SARS outbreak in late March, the Ministry of Education and the Department of Health announced the preventive measures for educational establishments.

When one suspected SARS case is found in a class, the whole class will be placed in quarantine recess. In instances where two suspected cases are found in a school, the entire school will be placed in quarantine recess.

As the disease has spread from Taipei to southern Taiwan, many government agencies as well as private organizations have postponed or even canceled activities with group participation, including the annual University and College Students Sports Compe-titions.

The spread of the contagion has also caused much disappointment to graduating students from high schools or junior high schools this summer since the schools have been instructed to cancel all celebrations or student trips.

Late last month, the Ministry of Education announced that the academic proficiency tests for junior high graduates this summer would be postponed from late this month to the middle of next month.

If 1 percent of the 300,000 students expecting to take the tests is under quarantine as of the registration date on June 10, the tests will be further postponed until June 28 and June 29.

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