Plan B ready for schools, if virus outlook worsens: Education minister
Turkey has a plan B ready in the event that the COVID-19 pandemic outlook in the period ahead renders face-to-face education impossible, Education Minister Ziya Selçuk has said as schools in the country partially reopened.
Only pre-school and first graders are attending the classes. Under the new arrangement, they will go to schools once a week between Sept. 21 and 25 and twice from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2.
“Nobody should have worries. Schools are now the safest among all places open to public,” Selçuk told daily Hürriyet.
He noted that the Education Ministry has been coordinating the efforts jointly with the Health Ministry.
“Our criteria are clear: Health and safety. Depending on the recommendations from the Health Ministry’s Science Board, we are planning to move to face-to-face education gradually and as soon as possible in all grades,” Selçuk said.
The minister stressed that how things will unfold in education will be contingent upon the pandemic outlook and the Board’s advices.
“We have a plan B, which is designed to protect the health of students, teachers and other staff at schools and to ensure the continuation of education. If the pandemic outlook renders in-class education impossible, we will go ahead with distance learning through [national broadcaster TRT’s Education Information Network] EBA for all grades,” he said.
More than 6,000 EBA Support Point areas have been established to the students who do not have access to remote education, Selçuk noted, adding that the target is to have 20,000 such points across the country.
On the first day of schooling, temperatures of students were taken before entering the classrooms, while parents were not allowed into school buildings.
Teams in Istanbul also distributed face masks to children.
Police conducted checks on school buses to see if the vehicles had disinfectants, face masks and thermometers. Police also informed the drivers about the coronavirus measures need to be taken.
Schools were closed on March 16, days after the country confirmed its first coronavirus case. The 2019-2020 school year was officially declared over in June.
It was initially announced that schools would reopen on Aug. 31. But a resurgence in infections postponed the reopening to Sept. 21 on a reduced scale.