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Turkish teachers returned to schools amid pandemic

Turkish teachers returned to schools amid pandemic

Ahead of the start of the new school year, teachers returned to schools across Turkey, minus students, on Monday. It has been almost five months since they paused in-person classes and connected with their students online amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Up until a few days before the start of the school year, teachers will undergo occupational training, a routine process that will be more significant this year as they will also learn how to observe the measures against the virus at schools.

Across Turkey, teachers gathered in classrooms and conference halls for the first course of the training program delivered online by National Education Minister Ziya Selçuk. Teachers will be trained on coronavirus measures, how to run classes with distance education to recuperate for missed classes last term and effective psychological and social support for students affected by the pandemic.

“I am as excited as I was during my first day on the job,” Ayşe Zehra San, a Turkish language teacher at a school in the western province of Izmir, told Anadolu Agency (AA). “We missed the school a lot and hope to reunite with our students as soon as possible. We conducted distance education, but it is not the same as in-person education. I cannot wait to be able to communicate with my students again,” she said.

The 2020-21 school year will start with distance education on Aug. 31. A gradual return to classrooms is scheduled for Sept. 21 with heightened measures to protect more than 18 million students. Private schools already opened last week with online classes.

Schools were shut down in March along with most public spaces as Turkish authorities rushed to prevent the virus outbreak from crippling the country’s health system. With the number of cases decreasing, Turkey created a road map for resuming in-person education, and authorities drafted a set of guidelines to prevent infections at reopened schools. Schools have been regularly inspected in the past weeks and certified as safe after inspections. Among the measures are the regular monitoring of body temperatures of students, teachers and other staff at schools, mandatory use of protective masks and social distancing measures. School halls will also have disinfectant dispensers, while visitors will not be allowed into schools.