Students will return to school in two stages – not soon enough say parents and educators

The anticipated change in PES number means children will return to school with masks, while the loosening of other measures could take effect Monday.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 19.11.2020 15:54 (updated on 20.11.2020)

Health Minister Jan Blatný will propose a relaxation of the anti-COVID measures to the cabinet on Friday. The Czech Republic should switch to the fourth level of the anti-pandemic PES system effective Monday, the minister announced at a Thursday press conference.

The loosening of measures would mean that, among other things, students still at home doing distance learning could be returning in a little over a week.

Czech secondary schools' last-year students will return to school as of November 25, and primary schools' 3rd-5th and 9th graders as of November 30, while the 6th-8th grades will start rotating attendance, Education Minister Robert Plaga (ANO) said today.

From next Wednesday, the rules for universities will also change. Final years can participate in labs and other group lessons, where a maximum of 20 people is allowed. 

The wearing of face masks will remain mandatory on all school premises except for kindergartens and special schools in the fourth as well as the third risk levels, and schools will need to frequently air out classrooms and observe other sanitary standards, Plaga said. 

In the fourth stage of the PES system, which means a risk score of 61 to 75, primary school attendance, practical teaching in secondary schools, and group teaching for up to 20 people can be resumed. Gatherings of up to six people could also be allowed and the curfew should be relaxed to 23:00 instead of the current 21:00.

A number of parents and educators have criticized the ministry's decision to wait to send children back until November 25 and November 30, well after the shift to the fourth level has taken place.

The ministry says schools must have time to prepare for the opening. Minister Plaga stated in the Chamber of Deputies on Thursday mornging that there is a need for schools to have enough time to prepare for a change in the organization of teaching and for parents and children to know about it "well in advance".

Nearly all schools have been closed with pupils learning remotely for about a month since Oct. 14. Pupils in the 1st and 2nd grades of primary schools returned on Wednesday, Nov. 18. Special schools also opened, which were closed from Nov. 2. Only kindergartens and selected schools allocated to children of healthcare and social workers, police, firefighters, and other front-line professions have remained open.