Parents protesting closure of schools

Koper – Rallies were held across the country on Sunday as parents protested closure of schools after two regions slipped back into black tier last week. The government decided schools should return to remote teaching and kindergartens close on Monday in the two regions after pupils in grades one to three were allowed back in nine of 12 regions last week.

After some 200 people protested in Trbovlje on Saturday, several hundred took to the streets of Koper this morning, while about 100 people gathered in Ljubljana. Protests were staged also in Maribor, Kranj and a number of other towns.

In Koper, protesters carried a big banner saying “Schools must remain open! Enough! Zoom is cancelled!”, while another one read “Open kindergartens, shut down government!”.

“This is not an uprising, this is not a revolution. This is a fight for the basic rights of all of us, but especially our children. We’re here today to say no to additional destruction of our children’s future,” one of the parents in Koper said.

Prime Minister Janez Janša responded to the Trbovlje protest in a tweet this morning, labelling it “irrational and dangerous exploitation of children for political purposes in a time of epidemic.”

“The rally is also illegal. It is such irresponsible behaviour that worsens the situation in individual regions,” Janša added, also retweeting a tweet saying that the organiser of the Trbovlje protest ran for the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) in the 2018 local election.

In nine of Slovenia’s 12 administrative regions, kindergartners and pupils in first three grades of primary school were allowed to return back to schools and preschools on Tuesday after more than three months.

But on Thursday, the government decided to once again close the schools in Zasavje and Obalno-Kraška regions following an increase in coronavirus cases that pushed the regions back into tier black.

Today, parents were joined in their plea to reopen schools by the Silver Thread, an association promoting dignified old age, which believes that closing of schools because of an increase in infections among elderly home residents is widening the intergenerational divide.

Association head Biserka Marolt Meden said in a press release that parents and children had started blaming the elderly for their not being able to return to school.

The association called on decision-makers to lend an ear to the people and above all the government task force, which has already said in the past that other aspects of life should be shut down sooner than schools.