The new school year (2020-2021) starts in Romania on Monday, September 14, with special COVID-19 safety rules for around 2.8 million preschoolers and students in the country.
The authorities announced different learning models for the new school year, based on each locality's epidemiological situation. There are three scenarios: green - in-person classes, yellow - the hybrid model (alternating virtual learning and in-class learning), and red - the online/at-home only scenario. Most reopen under the green scenario, while some use the other two learning models.
Education minister Monica Anisie said that about 100,0000 children would study according to the red scenario, namely exclusively online, Hotnews.ro reported. Meanwhile, close to 5,000 schools will use the hybrid model, and the rest will hold in-person classes.
The health authorities have also established a set of rules for the new school year to prevent and control the spread of the coronavirus. For example, entrance to courses will be made in stages, on several access doors, at different time intervals established according to each area or building. Classrooms should be rearranged to ensure a distance of at least one meter between the desks. Transparent separators will be installed in classrooms where the 1-meter distance can't be ensured.
Wearing a protective mask inside the school is mandatory for teachers and students, starting with those in primary school. Also, the teaching staff and the students have to practice social distancing and disinfect their hands frequently, and the classrooms should be disinfected and ventilated daily.
All the pupils in a classroom will switch to online learning for 14 days if one of their colleagues is spotted as infected, according to Hotnews.ro. The whole school will suspend classes and switch to online learning when three pupils from different classrooms are spotted as infected.
The new school year will be one of the shortest in recent years - it will have 34 weeks, ending on June 18, 2021. It has two semesters: one between September 14, 2020, and January 29, 2021, and a second one between February 8 and June 18, 2021. All students will have a winter break between December 23, 2020, and January 10, 2021, followed by a one-week break between semesters (January 30-February 7). There will also be two spring breaks (for the Catholic Easter and the Orthodox Easter), followed by the summer break, which will start on June 18.
In his back-to-school message on Monday morning, president Klaus Iohannis told children that they could all be superheroes protecting their loves ones by respecting the hygiene rules: "Each of you will have the opportunity to be a superhero who, when wearing a mask, washing his hands and listening to the guidance of teachers, protects his parents and grandparents, the most exposed to the risk of infection."
Iohannis also had a message for teachers: "We all step into unknown territory, and that is why it will take a lot of patience, flexibility, and energy, you will have to find internal resources and often adapt to unforeseen situations. However, I am convinced that you will be able to accompany the children in the fascinating journey of knowledge, whether you will be with them in class or at a distance, through online means of communication."
(Photo source: LCVA/Dreamstime.com)