No major problems reported as more students return to schools

Ljubljana/Kranj/Radovljica – All primary school students and final-year secondary school students from western and central Slovenia returned to school after over four months on Monday. Headteachers reported no major difficulties in organising classes. Most students are happy to be back. Schools in the eastern part of the country closed for a week-long holiday.

Quite a few adjustments were needed to avoid student contacts outside their classroom bubbles, so timetables had to be changed on a very short notice, said Irena Kodele Krašna, the headteacher of the Danilo Lokar primary school in Adjovščina.

Headteacher of the Fran Erjavec school in Nova Gorica Lara Brun told the STA their transition from distance to in-person learning would be soft and in line with all health recommendations.

“I told the staff to have sympathy to their students, as returning to school is again a big change for them. So this week they should mostly repeat what they’ve been learning … but foremost create an encouraging learning environment,” she said.

Alenka Krapež, head teacher of the Gimnazija Vič high school, said their students and teachers were “happy, smiling and content”. The school had no problems with coronavirus testing or organising of classes, noting that the same system had been used as last September, meaning each class being in their own classroom, distance keeping, use of face masks and airing of rooms.

The Gimnazija Franceta Prešerna Kranj secondary school is using a hybrid model of education, combining distance learning and classroom work. The system had been introduced because of frequent absences of many students who are musicians or athletes.

Head teacher Mirjam Bizjak told the STA they had some problems organising work but they were being tackled. She said gym classes for example would be held outdoors as much as possible.

Practical lessons are now also allowed for all students, so students of the Radovljica School of Hospitality and Tourism have lessons for one or two days a week at school and the rest from home, while the final grades have no more distance learning.

Head teacher Ivan Damjan Mašič said the biggest gap for students was not having had practical classes so they would try to make up for some of that first.

He said the school was big enough to have isolated bubbles and that nobody had any objections to masks. “Students are happy to be back at school. You can tell they missed socialising the most.”

This was echoed by Andreja Ahčin, headteacher of the Biotechnical Centre Naklo. “The kind of combined lessons that we have now is quite a challenge for the teachers but we are happy that at least part of the students could return to school.”

The importance of having students return to school and among friends was also stressed by the head of the DOS organisation of secondary school students, Maja Kalin. She said a survey conducted among secondary school students had shown 54% of them wanting to return to schools for the higher quality of education.

Quite a few of them had reservations, mainly concerns that they would put their family members in danger. Some also fear that taking a lot of tests in a short period of time to make up for the backlog would be stressful.

Dorms are also open again today. The head of the Kranj dorm for secondary school and university students, Judita Nahtigal, said their dorm had not been completely empty in the past months because of foreign students. But now that schools reopened, about a fifth of residents have returned.