The government has decided to prohibit students and teachers at high-school level and below from traveling abroad until the end of this semester due to the recent increase in the number of imported COVID-19 cases, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday.
Following discussions with experts, the Executive Yuan and other government agencies, the center decided that overseas travel would be inappropriate during the pandemic and made a recommendation that the Executive Yuan require that students and teachers at institutions below tertiary level not go abroad, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center.
The requirement would be in effect through the final day of classes, Chen said.
The announcement came after the New Taipei City Government yesterday said that it was prohibiting students and teachers below tertiary level from traveling overseas.
Several cities and counties followed suit, while some local governments called on the central government to create a policy on the matter.
The moves came after reports that a senior-high student living in northern Taiwan had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The school’s classes were the first in the nation to be suspended due to the disease.
New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) said that unless they have a special reason, students and teachers below tertiary level cannot travel abroad before the semester ends.
Students whose parents insist on taking them abroad would be penalized, New Taipei City Education Department Commissioner Chang Ming-wen (張明文) said.
Their leave would only be approved if they are traveling for a competition, to visit relatives or other special reasons, he added.
Prior to the CECC’s announcement, the National Students’ Rights Seminar in Taiwan, in response to the several local government following New Taipei City’s ban, said in a statement that it believed the local governments’ travel restrictions were in violation of Article 10 of the Constitution, which guarantees the “freedom of residence and of change of residence.”
Earlier yesterday the Ministry of Education said that it had asked schools to reach out to students, faculty and staff returning from abroad to confirm if they would need to be quarantined at home or manage their own health.
Additional reporting by Sherry Hsiao
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