UPDATED: 13. AUG 2020, AT 21:09

Masks in classrooms will be obligatory for older pupils

Experts introduce the wording of the written declaration required from parents.

The summer school in Vlčkovce, near Trnava.The summer school in Vlčkovce, near Trnava. (Source: TASR)

Older pupils will have to wear masks in the classroom during the first two weeks of school. Only children in kindergartens and first to fourth graders will be exempted.

However, masks will be obligatory for all pupils outside their classrooms, for example in school locker rooms.

The idea was presented by PM Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) and stems from a meeting of experts held on August 13.

“The beginning of the school year will be the hardest test in our fight against COVID-19,” Matovič wrote on Facebook.

He implied that not all parents will be responsible and some may even try to conceal that they were abroad with their children.

“Thus I proposed at the meeting of the group of experts to order the wearing of masks in classrooms during the first two weeks of school to protect the children,” the prime minister added.

Conditions for pupils still unclear

The cabinet, meanwhile, at its August 12 session rejected an earlier proposal of the pandemic commission and Health Minister Marek Krajčí (OĽaNO), who wanted children to provide a written declaration that they are not infected with the novel coronavirus and that they have not been abroad 14 days before school starts. Those who have been abroad would have to stay in self-isolation for two weeks.

Related articleSchools will open in September. Infected pupils will not mean automatic closure Read more 

“It is extremely important that healthy children enter schools,” the health minister stressed on August 11, after the meeting of the pandemic commission. He also recommended no travel abroad.

However, his proposal outraged parents who had already scheduled August holidays abroad with their children, the Sme daily reported.

At the same time, the government has not yet approved the conditions under which children will start school. Matovič only said that they will not cause chaos and stress parents with new duties.

Experts introduced the new wording of the written declaration required from parents and guardians on August 13. It will include two questions which they must answer: was the child outside of Slovakia after August 17 and did the child attend a mass event after August 17?

If at least one answer is yes, parents will have to monitor the health of the child, as well as the condition of other people who have been in contact with them. If any symptoms appear, they will have to contact a doctor and the child will be separated from their classmates.

Parents will also have to sign a declaration stating that their children have no symptoms of infectious disease.

The 14-day self-isolation of children who were abroad will not be mandatory.

Number of infected children on the rise

The number of children infected with the coronavirus has grown significantly in recent weeks, exceeding the statistics from March and April when the first coronavirus wave peaked in Slovakia.

Related articleForeign students are coming. Tests and isolation planned for those from risky countries Read more 

More than 80 children aged 5-19 who were positive with the disease were detected in July, and it is possible their number will increase after they return to school, Sme wrote.

“They will return after nearly six months,” said Henrieta Hudečková, main epidemiologist of the Health Ministry, as quoted by Sme.

A distinctive risk is the return of foreign students to secondary schools and universities. Thus Krajčí recommends these schools secure quarantine facilities for foreign students.

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