Teachers to wear masks all the time, children only outside classrooms

Ljubljana – Education Minister Simona Kustec presented on Thursday detailed rules for next week’s reopening of kindergartens and schools for the first three grades in nine out of the 12 Slovenian regions. She said teachers would have to wear masks at all times, children will have to mask up only outside their classrooms or their bubbles.

Children from one group will form bubbles and will not be in contact with other groups. The size of the groups will be determined by head teachers.

Children will stay in their classrooms during breaks as well and will also eat lunch there. They will use the gym one group at a time.

Pupils who are advised against attending school for health reasons will continue to do school work at home.

The state will provide additional masks to schools and kindergartens that will request this.

Obligatory coronavirus testing for staff will be performed on Monday and in-person classes will start on Tuesday.

Distance learning will remain in place for all other students, and for music schools. At universities, obligatory lab classes will also be allowed.

Prime Minister Janez Janša called for a safe return to schools on Twitter, noting that the government had followed the proposals of experts and the Constitutional Court despite having reservations.

The head of the Association of Head Teachers, Gregor Pečan, told the STA the partial reopening of schools had been expected given the government’s criteria for easing restrictive measures. He said schools were familiar with model C of schooling, which will be in place, so he expects no problems.

According to him, the only thing that may be problematic is the testing of the staff, as a large number of people will need to be tested and the testing will be obligatory. “I know that some have reservations for some reason or another although this is a completely non-invasive procedure,” he said.

Schools are preparing for the reopening and will start informing parents about this soon, he asserted.

Bojana Verdinek, the principal of the Prežihov Voranc primary school in Ravne na Koroškem, said she had mixed feelings about school reopening. “On the one hand we are looking forward to it, as it is high time, but on the other we are afraid of special restrictions and recommendations, as some of them cannot be implemented at the moment,” she said.

In line with yesterday’s government decision, all regions bar Posavska, Southeast Slovenia and Goriška will enter the red tier after a steady improvement over the last ten days that brought the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital below 1,200 and the seven-day rolling average of new daily cases below 1,350.