Schools in Europe are fighting the coronavirus

Schools in Europe are fighting the coronavirus

From Wednesday, October 14, all schools in the Czech Republic, from primary to higher education, have switched to distance learning. Only kindergartens remain open. It is planned that primary schools will resume teaching in a traditional form on Monday, November 2. In the Czech Republic, the coronavirus pandemic is currently developing fastest in Europe.

Also, schools in Northern Ireland will be closed from next Monday for two weeks, one of these weeks is a normal mid-term break. However, the shutdown period may be extended, and the introduction of distance learning is only one part of a four-week lockdown that also includes other restrictions.

Other parts of Great Britain have not yet taken a similar step. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly emphasized that ensuring the continuity of schools and their closure is a priority. In schools, students stay in fixed groups and do not mix with each other, and if an infection is detected, only a single group is isolated, not the entire institution. However, the number of such cases continues to grow. Last week in England, 8 % primary schools and 21% high schools had to somehow limit their activities because of the infection. There are not many of those that have been closed completely.

The Italian region of Campania announced on Thursday, October 15 that, due to the growing number of cases of Covid-19, schools at all levels and universities in the region will be closed by October 30. Learning will be conducted remotely. This is the only region in Italy so far to take such a step. 

The Italian government has repeatedly emphasized that schools will not be closed and the authorities are doing everything to ensure the safety of students. Everyday face masks are distributed to Italian schools. Students must wear them when on school property, but do not need to be worn during lessons, meals or sports activities. 

To reduce the risk of transmission of infection, the number of people in the classrooms was reduced and there were single desks. According to the plan, 2.5 million new furniture is to be delivered by the end of October. The media is concerned about the fact that some of the new tables are equipped with wheels, which can be potentially dangerous during earthquakes that regularly hit the Apennine Peninsula. 

On Thursday, the Italian Ministry of Health announced that 5,793 students, 1,020 teachers and 283 non-teaching workers were infected with the coronavirus less than five weeks after the start of the school year. The week before, it was reported that 200 schools had to be temporarily closed.

Announcing new restrictions in Germany at the end of last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that schools should remain open. In most Länder, pupils must wear masks in the hallways, and in some places also during lessons. Few schools are closed entirely due to infections found there, but teaching has been reduced in several hundred. 

On Thursday, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (UBA) issued instructions advising that classrooms (but also offices and other rooms with many people) should be ventilated regularly. To ensure safety, classes should be aired every 20 minutes for about five minutes, it was emphasized that windows must be wide open.

There is an epidemic emergency in France from midnight on Friday to Saturday. However, it was not decided to limit the work of schools. Despite the increasing number of infections, schools and classrooms only close when three infections in one group are detected. 27 schools and 293 classrooms were closed on Thursday, according to the ministry of education. Within one week, the infection was confirmed in 8,223 students and 2,063 school workers. Students over the age of 11 and teachers must wear masks in schools (PAP).

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