Blanket COVID-19 testing at Czech schools could start soon, says Education Minister

Blanket testing at schools could begin in the upcoming weeks, Education Minister Robert Plaga told reporters this weekend.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 31.01.2021 09:16 (updated on 31.01.2021)

Blanket COVID-19 testing of students at schools could start in the Czech Republic in the upcoming weeks, Education Minister Robert Plaga said in an interview with daily Lidové noviny published on Saturday.

Plaga said he would be glad if the tests were covered by health insurance, at least for secondary school students, as the number of COVID-19 cases in secondary schools had been higher than at primary schools or kindergartens.

Students who refuse to get tested should be excluded from regular school attendance in order to not threaten the health of others, he added.

Plaga said he would like to push through COVID-19 tests at least for some secondary school students, such as those in final years. He noted that students would not undergo tests every day. If more sensitive PCR tests were used, once a week would suffice.

It is still not sure when exactly the blanket testing at schools should start. "This is not a matter of months, but rather of weeks," Plaga said.

He also said he would like pupils and students to be tested by a non-invasive method, not using a nasal swab, which is common now.

If a student tests positive, their entire class would not have to be quarantined, but only schoolmates who had close contacts with them.

Plaga told the paper that the results of the study on epidemiologically risky activities at schools, which the ministry had ordered, would be available in a few weeks.

Currently, only kindergartens, special schools for disabled children, and the first two grades of elementary schools are open. Other educational institutions are operating through distance learning.

Currently, about 216,000 first and second-year pupils are going to school in the Czech Republic, along with 27,000 students at special schools and 365,000 children in kindergartens.

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It is not yet clear when additional students may be allowed to go to schools. According to experts, children in the last years of elementary and secondary schools need regular attendance most urgently.