On the first anniversary of Czech school closures, students plead for reopening

Students and teachers called for outdoor lessons at least once a week to allow for some stimulation and interaction.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 11.03.2021 15:31 (updated on 11.03.2021)

The students' group "Get Us Out staged a meeting outside the Health Ministry office in Prague today to mark the first anniversary of school closures in the Czech Republic.

Participants called on the ministry to allow at least outdoor instruction. They displayed photos of students from 25 schools across the country which are currently doing distance teaching due to the pandemic.

A dozen students from the Přírodní škola (Natural School) grammar school along with its principal František Tichý and Prague City Hall school committee head Mariana Čapková, who previously initiated the petition called "We Must Not Sacrifice Our Children," met in Palackého náměstí outside the ministry.

The petition, which urgently calls for tackling the situation with schools, has been signed by some 15,000 people, and its authors have submitted it to the Czech health and education ministers and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.

The organizers today passed on a letter to the Health Ministry, in which they demand that the authorities enable outdoor teaching activities at least once a week with the observance of anti-epidemic measures. They argue that this would enable teachers and psychologists to work with the children who sorely miss psychological and social stimuli and suffer learning problems as a result.

They also want the ministry to allow outdoor instruction for elementary art schools and outdoor activities of children's hobby clubs and permit school trips once again.

"Compared to other European countries, we are one of those where children have paid dearly for the epidemic the most," grammar school teacher Jaroslav Najbert said.

A month ago, the group also organised a meeting of students and teachers dressed in pyjamas and dressing gowns near the Chamber of Deputies in the center of Prague, addressing MPs coming to the lower house session. They called for seeking alternatives to regular instruction at schools and resuming children's free-time activities.

Since last October, most schools in the Czech Republic have provided only remote teaching due to the government's anti-coronavirus measures. Only kindergartens, special schools for disabled children, and later also the first two grades of elementary schools were opened until the end of February. Since March 1, these schools have been closed, too, within the scope of tightened government restrictions. The only exemption is valid for schools at healthcare facilities and for children of the Integrated Rescue System members.