Daily Phuket #106: 14 February 2022 – Eerily Quiet!

The latest (on Sunday) news was that the Lower Primary students would return to our school for on-site learning today, Monday the 14th so I got up bright and early. The daily COVID-19 case numbers had yet to be publicized when I began the 15-minute walk to work at 6:30. It was eerily quiet, quieter even than when our fifth wave began in early January. I was expecting a lot more traffic given the number of schoolkids due to be flooding the local schools.

I did see a few students in uniform as I entered our campus but it was very spooky and dark in the hallways leading to my office at the end of the P1 wing. Another teacher arrived around 30 minutes after I did and he, too, was wondering where the kids were. At 8:00, when the usual morning assembly and flag ceremony failed to materialize, I walked to the building containing my P4 classes where I was warmly greeted by the Thai teachers. They all told me “no students, online only” but could not tell me when that would end.

I was quite happy with that although I was disappointed that, yet again, we wouldn’t witness the joy of the children plastering each other with heart stickers during the main schoolyard Valentine’s Day activity in Thailand. I might enjoy that as much as the students! My bags of candy also went unopened, although I kept promoting them during my online lessons throughout the day. I encouraged my kids to stop by, say “hi” and receive some candy hearts in return. None took me up on the offer.

It was reasonably quiet in the office for much of the day as the other teachers were elsewhere. I haven’t seen the Ugandan all month and the Tunisian arrived late.

Late in the afternoon, there suddenly was a bit of children-generated noise from a neighboring building. I went to investigate and found kids collecting heavy cases of that weird no-need-to-refrigerate milk that the Thai government provides from time to time. I was politely shooed away. Maybe they thought I wanted to steal some milk! I also learned that the high school students who had returned last Monday had all been told to return to online learning after just three days; the stated reason is that many did not follow the pandemic protocols (wearing a mask, social distancing, etc. but the person who told me this said they believe a number of them showed positive in the on-site COVID testing.

It was very quiet when I walked home after school. I later found out that the daily numbers had dropped to 14,900 after the 16,300 on Saturday and 15,800 on Sunday. Hopefully, tomorrow will see another drop.

I will teach online from home tomorrow (five lessons in a row). Wednesday is the Makha Buja holiday so all schools will be closed.

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