Testing times

Testing times

With the COVID-19 situation worsening in Thailand, how is it affecting schools and teachers?

With the COVID-19 situation in Thailand not looking like it's going to improve anytime soon, how are teachers coping out there on the front line? 

When does your school plan to re-open? Have all classes gone online?

What have been the arrangements for teacher pay or are you going to lose money?

Has the recruitment of new teachers stopped? Have any of the existing foreign teaching staff decided to return home? Are any of the teaching staff stranded abroad?

Are there any self-quarantine rules in place?

We would love to hear from more teachers

The future is uncertain

Limbo is an interesting place and serves to focus the mind greatly. I am due to take up a teaching post in Thailand later this year.  At 55 I decided to have a career break from my full time teaching position here in Ireland and as of July I am out of contract.

I actually have no idea if I will be able to take up my new Thai post as all movement is currently restricted.  Should I book a one way flight? Can I even book a one way flight? Will I have visas and work permits sorted? Who knows?  I don't even know which documents I may need notarised or how I am going to get that done as yet.

Effectively I am out of work and out of income as of July for two years as my current post will be filled.  At first I found the whole situation a little stressful; how would I afford things like my mortgage here or the other essential bills I have? The stress and anxiety have subsided now though and I'm content that something will present itself.  I will either be working in Thailand or I will not.  Right now the important thing is staying safe.........and building a plan ;)

- Steve


I’m a teacher through an agency with a one-year visa. I do not get paid for holidays, in fact my last pay cheque was on the 7th March.  I am desperately hoping schools re-open in either May or June because if they don’t, I will be stranded without an income and all alone, which will make life difficult. 

If I can somehow go home, I don’t think I will be able to make it back here again. I love my job and my life in Thailand and the uncertainty of what will come next is a daily worry.

- Emily


I'm teaching all my lessons online. I'm filming my lessons using screencast and then uploading it and the accompanying worksheets or activities to complete are on Seesaw. The kids are very involved. As a parent my daughter has so much work posted online, I can barely keep up. Just not the same focus as being in the classroom.

- Bridget

'Online struggle'

Here in Ayutthaya, our language school closed two weeks ago and we've been told it will be closed until 30th April at the earliest. Our boss has been kind enough to pay the internal staff until this period. May though could prove a month of uncertainty! Online classes are being offered to students. However, many are very young and may struggle with the online platform. The start of school term will see many schools across Thailand struggling to fill their vacancies. Hopefully the situation will get better quickly.

- Andy


I know this is a long shot, but I am hoping for some tips and advice on my future plans to move to the Kingdom.

I am a British citizen who for the last three years has been teaching in Cambodia. A couple of months ago I secured a position in an international school in Chiang Mai, to start in August. Therefore I booked flights from Phnom Penh to Chiang Mai on 3rd July and return flights to the UK a couple of weeks later once I had settled. 

With the recent developments, I am concerned about how long these restrictions and border closures will last, how this will affect my application for a non-b and whether I will still be able to make those travel plans above.  I understand that there are no certainties at this point, but wondered if anyone had any inside information or educated guesses on the matter?

Thank you for reading and stay safe everyone.

- James


So far, we've managed to hold on to most of our regular students by teaching them online but it's end of term next week and I suspect the April holiday schedule will be a total shambles, mostly because Cambridge CIE have now formally cancelled the May/June 2020 IGCSEs and other important exams.  Bang go hundreds of revision lessons across all subjects! Still no idea when international schools will reopen.

- George


It's quite unnerving. I am on a ten-month contract with my company that hires and sends teachers into Thai public schools. Of course this means October, March, and April are months when I'm not paid. 

In the past I have relied heavily on the extra classes that I teach on nights and weekends.  I find the students on my own, or better I get new students based on referrals from my current students. 

During March and April I can usually get close to my regular salary from working in the Thai school. But not this year. Of my 15 private students all but three are taking a Corona virus break.  So if the schools don't start and I don't get pay, that would be terrible.

- William


Teachers that left the country to return home or take a holiday really don't deserve their jobs, if and when they return. This situation had been brewing weeks ago and the writing was on the wall. Not a great deal of concern on their part.

- Jim

'Bumpy ride'

This crisis is having and will likely continue to have an impact on people throughout the world. My "day job" has moved online but I also have a lot of other online work so I will probably be OK, at least in the short-term. Although both of my children, living in different countries but both in the hospitality industry, have been laid off and Dad is expected to help out.

I am not a health expert, although the information we have available is that only one person has died from the virus and that was over a week ago here in Thailand, but I am expected the indirect negative economic consequences will affect billions of people across the planet and the effects might be a lot more long lasting than expected. Buckle up and expect a bumpy ride, for how long? Your guess is as good as mine.

I would expect the demand for English teachers abroad will decline and remain low for some time. But this is mostly just speculation.

- Jack

Time running out

With borders closing nearby, teachers who will need a new non-B visa are facing questions and uncertainty.  Rumors abound and officials at various embassies and immigration offices are confused with shifting policies (as usual).  Is there any clarity that Ajarn can provide to teachers who need a new non-B for the upcoming May 1 school year?

As for me in particular, I had a non-B visa and work permit last year, but left the school at the end of December, and was required to leave the country to get a new tourist visa until I found a new teaching job.  Now that I've been hired to work in Nonthaburi, the school is closed and the required paperwork is not being processed.  

I have only until April 5 on my current tourist visa (with extension already issued) and I am reading that Laos will be closing its borders.  I am also being told that I will need a health certificate (testing negative for the virus) and insurance to cover expenses when I do contract the virus (it is inevitable, I think, especially for teachers).  I have also heard rumors that Thai Immigration is offering a 30-day extension, beyond the normal allowances, for anyone who is here long term.

Does anyone have good advice for teachers like me?  Thank you!

- Mike

No Summer school

Our school has canceled the Summer School program and we have no students on campus, but teachers are still coming in and doing lots of cleaning and designing a new curriculum. I think teachers will continue to come into work, but there will be no students for a while.

- Jack


I'm really worried as I'm working in a government school through the agency on a 10 month-contract. The students finished last week, but we were supposed to be at school every day, and March was to be paid in full. Today we were told that there's no need to come to school anymore. It's unclear if I will get paid for this month or even have a job if schools don't open in May.

- Den


I'm not sure if this school closing rule is mandatory, because my school is just going to carry on as normal and even run the Summer camp. 

- Matthew

Online classes?

The language center I work at is considering online classes instead. The school is now closed and there will be no more Summer classes this year. 

- Jhona 

Bad in Vietnam

You guys are lucky. Here in Vietnam, all schools and language centres have been closed for two months and many teachers have had no pay during that time. A lot of teachers have already left.

- Jey

Filipino teachers stayed put

I work for an agency in Phuket that contracts teachers to work in government schools and we also have a variety of classes in our shopping mall facility (newly remodeled offices and classrooms opened in mid-February).

Most of the contracted schools finished last week; a few are still in "as normal" operation this week and one or two until next week. Of course, that may change.

I believe about half of our teachers returned to their home countries for the term break. They said they were returning "as usual" in early May, apparently believing things will be fine by then. Many of our Filipino teachers elected to remain in Thailand, fearing the uncertainty. This was before Manila's lock-down so I believe they made the right choice.

As our in-house classrooms and offices are located inside a shopping mall, the regular security at the entrances scan our body temperatures upon arrival (and also when walking to different areas of the mall). Hand sanitizer is readily available at all entrances.

Inside, it is business as usual. We have had staff and teachers alike with minor coughs over the past couple of weeks and they wear surgical masks when in the lobby area and occasionally in the classrooms. It is difficult to teach wearing one. Most of our parents and children arrive wearing masks and there has been a surge in that over the past few days. There have been a few class cancellations here and there as parents decide to keep their children at home. My adult students have not canceled a single class as of yet

We are actively hiring. I noticed at least three walk-in applicants last week, one of which already has been assigned several in-house classes.

There are a couple of activity days on the calendar for later this month and early April (the latter a multi-day English camp). They will evaluate soon.

- Mark Jochim

20-day quarantine

Our school has asked teachers to cancel their travel plans, and if you are not willing to do that, you will need to self-quarantine for 20 days when you return to Thailand. Furthermore, you will not be allowed in school without a medical certificate stating you have tested negative. 

If a teacher is in quarantine, they will not receive a salary and passports will be checked to verify movements when the school eventually re-opens. 

There are no students at school at the moment because it's mid-term break. Teachers start back on 1st May, students on 15th. Summer school has already been canceled and many teachers have also canceled holidays, trips home, etc.

- Zelda

Cancelled travel plans

We still have to report to school until the 31st of March. We have security guards checking people's temperatures every time they enter the building. Some teachers have cancelled their trips abroad and opted to stay in Thailand. Some teachers already left to travel abroad weeks before and they were told to just stay safe. 

We've had no students on the premises since the last week of February. 

- Kenneth

Business as usual

It's pretty much business as usual at my school but an e- learning platform is being readied just in case. 

- Juna

Students have finished

We have no students around at the moment, in fact, they finished school a week early. The teachers are still required to go in and whilst we have to scan our fingerprints in the morning and evening, there are no temperature checks.

- Alex

We're prepared!

We've just been told that school is closed starting tomorrow for students. We will have a staff meeting today to be told details in regards to whether or not teaching staff will be made to come to school.  We're completely prepared to work and learn from home with online learning platforms. 

- Jen


Our school has canceled Summer School. We have no students on campus, but we are still coming in doing lots of cleaning then curriculum. I think teachers will continue to come in to work, but no students.

By Jack, Thonbury (18th March 2020)

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