Czech government to decide whether students will return to school by the end of the week, or sooner

Education Minister Robert Plaga (ANO) is pushing for the Czech government to decide on the measures by tonight.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 27.10.2020 11:02 (updated on 27.10.2020)

Prague, Oct 27 (CTK) - Czech officials will make a decision by the end of this week, or sooner, on whether or not children will return to school next week as originally planned.

The decision will depend on the development of the coronavirus epidemic as the week progresses, officials announced last night at a press conference.

However, Education Minister Robert Plaga (for ANO) is pushing for the Czech government to decide on the return of children from the lower grades to primary schools tonight at the latest, and not at the end of this week as the cabinet plans, he tweeted today.

At Monday's government meeting, Plaga called on Prymula to announce his decision on schools reopening after the Health Ministry updated the data on the epidemic development at 18:00.

"The situation is not good, there is nothing to wait for. The schools, parents and children need to know how this will be," Plaga said.

As soon as the situation allows, though, Plaga wants to send students in primary school back to the classroom, he said, according to iDnes.

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"Deployment scenarios must also think about the final years of both primary schools, which are waiting for admissions, and secondary schools, which are waiting for a high school diploma or a final exam," he added.

However, the epidemiological situation doesn't look good for reopening schools, Health Minister Roman Prymula (for ANO) told reporters after the government meeting. Government officials are looking at a number of different options for the coming weeks.

For example, one option may be that only first and second grade children will return to school, instead of all students.

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Not everyone wants schools to reopen, though. Deputy PM and Interior Ministry Jan Hamáček (CSSD), who is heading the Central Crisis Staff (UKS), said that schools should remain closed for several more weeks.

Hamáček has made no secret of his desire to keep schools closed.

"Yes, the situation is bad and the schools will be closed for a few more weeks ..." Hamáček tweeted to Martin Baxy on Monday. Baxy is an ODS deputy, a member of the parliamentary school committee, and the mayor of Pilsen.

All schools except for kindergartens and special schools for the disabled have been closed in the Czech Republic since October 14 in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus. A majority of students are participating in distance learning. The measure is supposed to last until Nov. 2, and government officials will review the situation and either extend the measure or cancel the measure.

Prymula originally promised that children from the primary school lower grades, that is from the first to fifth grades, would definitely return to schools in early November. However, later he admitted that he might not be able to keep his promise, as the epidemiological situation was not improving.

Prymula has said that the return of students to school is conditional, and will depend on the number of new COVID-19 cases slowing down.

During the first wave in March, all schools in Czechia were also closed. Schools closed on March 11 and some schools remained closed until the end of the school year on June 30. However, distance learning was not compulsory at that point.

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In the past, the government said that when the new school year started on Sept. 1, schools would be closed only locally based on the epidemic situation in particular regions and the share of the infected in particular schools.