YEREVAN, August 27. /ARKA/. Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Armenia Zhanna Andreasyan, speaking Wednesday at a press conference, presented additional details about the system of organizing classes in schools in the context of the coronavirus and the anti-epidemic rules introduced because of the pandemic.
What is the schedule for the children?
Andreasyan recalled that classes in schools, which will resume from September 14th for first graders and from September 15th for other schoolchildren, in the new academic year will be held six days a week instead of five.
This is due to the fact that classes in which more than 20 students study should be divided into two groups, which will come to school on different days. Thus, each group will attend classes in schools three times a week, and the rest of the school days will be provided for self-study.
“This will also make it possible to reduce the number of people at the same time in school, to reduce the intensity of communication. At the same time, teachers will have to regulate the educational process and curricula in the subjects in order to distribute them among groups,” she said.
Will teachers’ working hours increase when working with two groups of the same class?
The deputy minister stressed that, despite the division of classes into groups, the number of teachers’ working hours will not increase. She noted that the schedule and program of the subject are drawn up in such a way as to ensure the separation of the full-time educational process and independent work.
“The distribution [of teaching hours] is carried out in accordance with the order of attendance at school. If the class is divided into two groups, then the first group comes, for example, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and conducts its lessons on a schedule of 45 minutes. If the teacher needs 2 hours per week, then she spends one hour with the first group and another with the second,” she explained.
How will students be monitored for wearing masks?
Andreasyan said that the requirement to wear masks is valid and is a general rule and regime, including in schools. In her words, each school will appoint a person responsible for the prevention of the coronavirus and compliance with all anti-epidemiological rules.
“Schools do not envisage any additional regulation in this matter – this process is organized as in any other place in the country. Regarding control, in general, this process is left to the inspection authorities. The regulations for schools indicate that control should be carried out by the inspection agency, in this case an educational one, whose representatives will visit schools and monitor compliance with the process,” she said.
The deputy minister said that at the first stage, such visits will be of a supervisory nature, not aimed at imposing fines for violations. She noted that it is important to explain to children the need to wear masks.
How will distance education be organized for schoolchildren from risk groups?
The deputy minister said that centralized distance learning will be organized for teachers and students at risk of coronavirus and who are not able to attend classes in person.
“Distance education will be organized centrally, which means that we will not put everything on the shoulders of individual schools and teachers and will try to centrally implement the educational process of children, leaving schools the right to assess [students’ knowledge],” she said.
In her words, teachers at risk were asked to attend school with special personal protective equipment that will be provided to them. They also have the opportunity to conduct classes remotely, and if both options are impossible, they may simply not attend an educational institution (in this case, a replacement teacher will be involved).
About the beginning of the new school year in the context of COVID-19
First-graders in Armenia will go to school on September 14 accompanied by one person, and the academic year at other levels of general education starts on September 15. Schoolchildren will attend school six days a week instead of five days. Students must wear masks during lessons.
In schools, it is prohibited to hold mass events (morning children’s events, movie screenings, sports events, entertainment, performances, etc.). Also, the extension and the activities of extracurricular groups organized by the school have been temporarily canceled.
The separation of classes with a large number of students is envisaged in order to be able to ensure social distance. Schools will be provided with hand sanitizers and classrooms will be disinfected before or after lessons.
About distance learning
Due to the situation with the coronavirus, Armenian schoolchildren have not actually attended classes since March 13, 2020, and since March 16, the authorities have declared a state of emergency in the country. After some time, through the efforts of officials of the Ministry of Education and teachers, a distance learning format was organized through various online platforms. However, about 20% of schoolchildren could not be involved in the remote learning system, in particular, for technical reasons (lack of gadgets, Internet connections, etc.).
Situation amid COVID-19
A state of emergency was declared in Armenia on March 16, 2020 in order to suppress the spread of COVID-19, and then it was extended five times. Thus, according to the government’s decision of August 12, the state of emergency is in effect in Armenia until 17:00 on September 11.
At the same time, restrictions on free movement and some types of economic activity introduced from March 24 were lifted on May 4, and, public transport, gyms, kindergartens and catering facilities resumed operating from May 18. From August 12, foreigners’ entry to the country was allowed. Holding meetings and rallies was allowed as well, but with wearing masks and observing social distance.
According to the latest regular report released Wednesday morning, there are 43,067 confirmed COVID-19 infection cases, 861 deaths and 36,726 recovered patients in Armenia.