All pupils through third form to return to school

Ljubljana – Pupils in the first three grades of primary school throughout the country will return to in-classroom instruction on Tuesday in line with last week’s government decree. All kindergartens are to reopen.

On Thursday, the government decided to suspend a region-based approach to imposing or lifting coronavirus restrictions, deeming the entire country to be in tier red.

The second strictest phase envisages pupils through the third form returning to school. Moreover, kindergartens that have been closed so far were allowed to reopen today and those that have been providing day care only to parents in essential professions were allowed to go back to full capacity.

Both parents and teachers have welcomed the move, expressing hope that the remaining students may soon follow suit.

Weekly mass testing among teachers teaching in person is still obligatory, with all of them required to have their swab taken at the start of the school week except for those who have already recovered from Covid-19.

A number of schools organised testing already yesterday, whereas the majority tested their staff today.

Rapid testing of teachers in Ajdovščina (W) has detected a high positivity rate (above 15%) among teachers of a local primary school, however subsequent PCR tests came back negative, deeming all the rapid test results fake positives.

The PCR confirmatory testing was used in the Ajdovščina municipality yesterday to confirm or dismiss 20 positive results produced by rapid tests and all of them turned out to be fake positives. Egon Stopar, the director of the Ajdovščina health centre, thinks that the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) should re-assess the quality of the rapid tests.

Meanwhile, other head teachers from the remaining three regions that reopened their schools today – Goriška, Zasavska and Obalno-Kraška – reported of no major problems. Most of the teachers were negative in coronavirus testing, while pupils have adjusted to the social distancing rules in place.

But the situation is different for kindergartens, with Kindergarten Association head Janja Bogataj saying some had significant staffing issues due to sick leaves unrelated to Covid-19 and because teachers’ own children are being remotely schooled and require childcare.

Bogataj also expressed the demand that if staff are to be tested regularly, this should be done with reliable tests, whereas many of the rapid antigen tests came back positive only to be later refuted by the more reliable PCR tests.

This causes significant confusion, said Bogataj, illustrating that one of the kindergartens could only provide urgent childcare today because most of them had had positive rapid tests, while PCR test results were all negative but came back late at night.

Bogataj also touched on attendance, saying it was higher (78%) in the regions where kindergartens reopened two weeks ago, whereas in the newly reopened regions attendance was at 63%.

Slovenia could soon reach tier orange, which envisages in-classroom instruction for the remaining primary school pupils and final years of secondary school as well as resumption of exams and seminars at the university level with up to ten people allowed.

A part of secondary school students boycotted remote classes today out of protest against remote schooling. Parents of primary school pupils from the Maribor area had urged a 10-minute suspension of today’s classes to call for “more appropriate organisation of school for all students”.