New PES index allows in-class learning at risk level five: so when will Czech schools reopen?

The change was approved by lawmakers today, however, an exact date for when children can return has not yet been set.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 22.01.2021 15:37 (updated on 22.01.2021)

Prague, Jan 22 (CTK) -- Students in the final years of elementary and secondary schools will be able to learn in the classroom even during the strictest, fifth level of the PES anti-epidemic system, Health Minister Jan Blatný told a press conference today. Education Minister Robert Plaga confirmed the news on Twitter.

Rules will also be adjusted for schools in rural areas that provide combined classes for children of various ages and group the first five classes of elementary schools together.

The Czech Republic remains at the fifth level of PES the system, however, when children can actually return to school remains uncertain.

Currently, only kindergartens, special education institutions for disabled students and the first two classes of elementary schools (first and second grade) are open. All other classes are doing distance learning.

"Should the epidemic situation allow it, we could think of all the first five years of elementary schools," Blatný said. "We will know it during next week," he added.

  • According to the Education Ministry, roughly 550,000 children are educated in the first five classes of elementary schools.
  • The ministry estimates some 216,000 first- and second-year pupils go to school now, along with 27,000 students of special schools and 365,000 children in kindergartens.
  • Reopening of the final-year classes will concern 94,000 pupils in elementary schools and 93,000 students in secondary and vocational schools, listed as priority groups due to upcoming entrance and final exams in the spring.

A decision will likely be made next Wednesday; schools could reopen in early February.

Should all first five years of elementary schools return to regular instruction, further anti-epidemic measures will be needed, Association of Elementary School Headteachers' chairman Michal Cerny said. Education in secondary schools would be more complicated, he added.

Plaga previously said he will decide about the form of the A-level exams next week.

Nurseries for children under three will open as well, said Blatný. In contrast, "forest clubs" remain closed as they do not have the same legal status as kindergartens, he added.

Typically spring holidays are held in the Czech Republic between Feb. 1 and Mar. 14 and many families go skiing; Blatný said he is not against opening ski lifts from an epidemiological point of view, as long as doing so does not increase mobility.

Accommodation services are now accessible to business travelers but cannot be used for vacation purposes. Some accommodation providers are promoting family vacations that can be arranged to look like business trips, the practice is not legal, Blatný stressed.