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Most school and kindergarten children in Romania are back in school following change in criteria for in-person learning.
With new Covid-19 infections and the related death toll dropping to the lowest levels in the last two months, the education authorities decided to change the criteria for how classes are held. Almost 90% of Romanian pupils and kindergarten children are therefore back in class for in-person classes from Monday. Schools and kindergartens in localities where the Covid incidence rate is below 3 cases per 1,000 inhabitants have reopened, regardless of the vaccination rate among their staff. After the new rules came into force, over 2,600,000 children are back in school, with another 400,000 still doing classes online. Interim education minister Sorin Cîmpeanu told the public television:
"1,792 schools are still teaching online because they are located in places where the infection rate is above 3 per thousand and the vaccination rate is below 60% among their staff. Where the infection rate is zero or very low, in some villages, for example, where Internet access is also difficult, it would be illogical to oblige children to study online. So, below 3 per thousand, there's no link between the vaccination rate among the teaching staff and whether classes are held online or not. Above 3 per thousand, there's a link: at least 60% of the teaching staff must be vaccinated."
Education minister Sorin Cîmpeanu also urged pupils and teachers to get the vaccine. At the moment, over 400,000 children and teenagers over the age of 12 have had the vaccine, accounting for 33% of the total number eligible for vaccination. Among the teaching staff, some 70% have got the vaccine. Schools are also waiting this week for the delivery of non-invasive rapid antigen tests from saliva, a first for Romanian education. The testing of children, which, in France, for example, has been common practice since the start of the school year, should also have happened in Romania since 8th November, when schools reopened, and as the authorities had promised. Under-secretary in the education ministry Sorin Ion explains where these tests can be taken:
"The school management will decide if the testing is made at school or at home under the supervision of parents or legal guardians. So, it's up to each school, depending on the type of school and the availability of staff."
The authorities wanted initially for all testing to be done in school but education trade unions said this would hamper the teaching activity and turn schools into hotbeds of infection, so they called for the testing to be done at home, with the result that the authorities reconsidered their decision. (CM)
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