Minister urges public responsibility over reopening of schools

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Turkey’s education minister has urged members of the public to take responsibility when schools reopen for the new academic year late September, with children expected to attend face-to-face classes amid the coronavirus outbreak after months of isolation at home.

“Starting face-to-face education on Sept. 21 is in your [public] hands. We have even selected games that children can play during breaks without any [physical] contact,” Ziya Selçuk said on his Twitter account yesterday.

Selçuk had previously announced that the academic year for public schools will start on Aug. 31 with distance education, while the gradual return to classrooms is scheduled for Sept. 21.

Private schools will start on Aug. 17, Selçuk had said on Aug. 12.

“I am writing this to you not as a minister, but as a teacher,” Selçuk said in his tweet yesterday, adding that he was in favor of children physically going back to school.

The minister said education should be done by “hearing a child’s sigh and laughter, patting on his or her shoulder and having fun together.”

“You can’t make these in distance learning.”

While Selçuk stressed on the importance of going back to school, he called for vigilance in the face of the coronavirus.

“We can’t do this without you. Please wear masks and maintain physical distance so that we can open the schools.”

He posted a photo of him holding a face mask with a view of the Bosphorus Strait, stressing on the importance of children wearing face masks – which has widely been accepted in the world as a preventative measure against the virus – in schools.

According to the new measures, school buildings will be washed down thoroughly before the academic year starts. Education facilities are required to have the necessary equipment to screen students’ body temperature and provide masks and hand disinfectants, as well as cologne, as part of the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Schools need to make the necessary arrangements to allow only one person in four square meters of space. In classes, study rooms and refectories, people will be required to stand one meter apart from each other.

After the pandemic started in Turkey on March 11, the country shut down primary, secondary and high schools on March 16 and launched a distance learning program on March 23 for around 18 million students.

Hurriyet Daily News

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