International Schools Closed in Aftermath of Violent Clashes

Thousands of students around Phnom Penh remained at home Monday after their schools closed due to concerns over violent clashes between protesters and police on Sunday in which one man was shot dead.

The head of Northbridge International School Cambodia (NISC), located close to Phnom Penh International Airport, on Monday said that the school had decided to close as the staff were fearful after Sunday’s events.

“NISC decided to close today because of concerns over street closures and disruptions resulting from the current situation in Phnom Penh,” Steve Paterson, head of NISC, said, adding that he hoped that classes would be able to resume today.

The International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP) was also closed but did not reply to a request for comment.

Golden Gate American School said that it had intended to remain open, but parents were asked to pick their children up during the day as overall attendance was too low, Simon Ly, assistant to the board of directors, said.

“Although the Ministry of Education didn’t tell us to close, we are closed today [Monday] and tomorrow [Tuesday] because we had almost no students this morning and parents also asked us if their children can be absent until Wednesday,” Mr. Ly said.

Only about half of the school’s 700 students attended school Monday morning, he added.

The Home of English International School on Monday said that staff had decided to keep the school open, but attendance among the more than 2,600 students was also very low.

“This morning only about 50 percent of the students came in, and in the afternoon I think it was only around 30 percent,” said Sophea Po, the school’s administration manager.

Although the area around the school, which is located on Street 282 close to Wat Langka, was quiet all day, many parents had been too scared to send their children to school, Ms. Po said.

“Because of the demonstration and the street-block people got very scared and didn’t want their kids to come and study,” Ms. Po said, adding that there was no danger near the school and that she hoped that all students would return today.

The British International School as well as French school Lycee Francais Rene Descartes said that they had not closed as there had not been any instructions from their respective embassies to do so.

A woman who answered the phone at Lycee Francais Rene Descartes but who refused to give her name or position, said that whether the school closed was the decision of the French Embassy.

“It is the decision of the French Embassy. They want us to be open, so it is not the decision of the headmaster,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Khuon Narim)

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