The Education Ministry came up with a manual on how children can return to schools

The plan copies the COVID automat, and even proposes the testing of pupils.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo (Source: TASR)

Christmas holidays for pupils and students start on December 21 and will last at least until January 10.

Some children will be able to return to schools the very next day, on January 11, 2021. However, the re-opening of schools will depend on the level the areas is on according to the recently introduced alert system, called COVID automat.

Levels will decide about return

Slovakia is currently in the 3 and 4 warning level stage, Education Minister Branislav Gröhling (SaS) said. He expects the situation to improve after Christmas, when the restrictions will be tougher.

The district, in which a 14-day incidence will cross 150, will be able to open kindergartens, primary and secondary schools without restrictions. Universities will be able to teach in the current form with limited capacity, but dormitories will have to stay closed.

If the districts will be at the first warning level, meaning the 14-day incidence is 150 to 300, universities will have to switch to distant education. Kindergartens and primary schools will still operate without limits, but only the students of the final grade of secondary schools will return to school.

In the case of second and third warning level, when a 14-day incidence is between 300 and 2,000, only kindergartens, grades one to four of primary schools and the final grades of both primary and secondary schools will stay open. In-person education will be allowed only with a negative test result. Special schools and children who are not able to switch to distant learning will be able to return to school with a maximum of five children and one teacher in a group.

In the last and fourth warning level, only kindergartens and classes from first to fourth grades of primary schools remain open only for children of parents from critical infrastructure.

Testing in schools

Headmasters and the schools founders should launch a poll on the interest in COVID-19 testing among parents and employees in the coming day, Gröhling said. The results should be sent to the ministry by December 21, 14:00.

We do not need a test to enter a shopping mall, so why do it in schools? Read more 

The ministry recommends holding the first testing in schools on January 7-9, with pupils and students of grades five to nine of primary schools and secondary schools expected to take part.

Gröhling assumed that pupils and parents who live in one household and school employees will have to be tested after Christmas holidays. It will be obligatory if a district will be in the warning level two to three, so the 14-day incidence will amount to between 150 to 1,000. Children will be able to take the gargle test while employees and parents antigen tests, he suggested.

The frequency of testing should be discussed in January, but it will depend on the epidemiological situation.

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