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Turkey hopes to resume in-person education

Turkey hopes to resume in-person education

Turkey hopes to resume in-person education, which fell victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a new measure in hand: vaccines.

Teachers, who were not included in the priority list for inoculation that started last month, will now get their first jabs later this month, probably before the reopening of village schools on Feb. 15. Reopening, which will coincide with start of second semester, will later be expanded to more schools across the country on March 1.

Schools were closed amid concerns of a new surge in the outbreak which claimed 26,237 lives since March 2020. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced after a Cabinet meeting on Monday that schools in rural areas would be the first to resume education. Primary schools, between grades 8 and 12, will start in-person education on March 1 while the schedule for other grades is not clear.

When Turkey last resumed in-person education, which ended shortly after the outbreak made its foray into the country in March 2020, it did not have a vaccine and the public appeared to be less compliant with mask-wearing, social distancing and hygiene rules as the daily cases indicated. Cases nowadays fluctuate well below 10,000, with an occasional uptick. Professor Mustafa Necmi Ilhan, a member of Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, says the vaccination of teachers will facilitate reopening. “Children should not lag behind in education, but this does not mean that we should ignore the measures. Teachers, students, their parents should comply with rules,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Wednesday.