School, kindergarten opening to proceed as planned on Tuesday
Ljubljana - Kindergartens and the first three grades of primary school in Slovenia will open as planned on Tuesday despite additional confirmation that the highly virulent UK variant of coronavirus has been present in Slovenia since the start of the month.
After almost three months of closure, the partial reopening was decreed by the government last week, but the plan was thrown into doubt today when Prime Minister Janez Janša told parliament "we still don't know whether classes in schools will really be re-started on Tuesday."
After confirmation that the UK variant is in Slovenia, he solicited opinions from the Education Ministry and the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ), which both said the reopening may proceed. "Let's help teachers to make sure work is safe," Janša tweeted in the afternoon.
The Education Ministry said in its opinion schools were prepared and classes would be safe, while the NIJZ said its position remained unchanged and noted that it would carefully monitor the situation at educational institutions and "propose further measures at any sign of a deteriorating epidemiological situation".
All efforts now need to be invested in managing the epidemic at the national level and making sure the school environment is safe for children and staff. "If restrictions need to be tightened, other potential transmission locations should be closed first," the NIJZ said.
In-class schooling is resuming under model C, meaning children from various classrooms must not mix and will have to remain in classroom during breaks. If possible, they will also have lunch in the classroom.
While teachers will have to wear face masks all the time, primary schools children will be able to take them off in the classroom.
No school trips or any other extracurricular activities are allowed.
Before school reopening all teachers teaching in person were tested for coronavirus yesterday, and will be tested once a week in the future.
Until 5pm yesterday, 1.4% of a total of 17,435 teachers tested were positive for the virus.
Children do not have to get tested, but the education minister has indicated this could change.
Schools remain closed in the three regions where the epidemiological situation does not yet allow reopening: Goriška, west, South-East Slovenia and Posavska, east.
Children with special needs returned to school in all of Slovenia's statistical regions three weeks ago.
All the other school children or students remain on distance learning, with the exception of universities, which are allowed to hold only lab sessions.