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Turkey readies to reopen schools amid pandemic

Turkey readies to reopen schools amid pandemic

The government on Tuesday issued new guidelines for local education authorities for the start of in-person education next month. The guidelines recommend full vaccination (two doses) for parents, teachers, education staff, school bus drivers and canteen employees.

In-person education hit a snag both last year and this year due to the pandemic, which forced authorities to switch initially to remote classes and later to a hybrid education model with online classes and in-person classes offered together. The government announced last week that the schools would open only with in-person education on September 6. Though daily coronavirus cases are still high (around 18,000), Turkey is relying on its vaccination program to stave off a new surge.

Earlier, authorities announced that the teachers and other staff at schools would be required to regularly provide negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results in order to attend in-person education. The same will apply to the unvaccinated for inter-city bus travel, flights and attendance to crowded events in cinemas, concert halls and theaters.

Under new guidelines, teachers and other staff at schools will be required to present negative test results twice a week. All schools will be required to store sufficient protective masks for everyone, from students to teachers. Masks will be provided by the Ministry of National Education. Schools have also been instructed to properly dispose of used masks.

The Ministry of National Education and the Health Ministry will set up a “data integration system” to track the health status of teachers and students. That is intended to facilitate contact tracing if necessary. The education staff will be trained on infection control before the start of the new school year.