Turkey suspended 774 classes after finding COVID-19 infections in 872 schools in the second week of the school year, the Education and Science Workers’ Union (Eğitim-Sen) said.
The rates will increase should the Education Ministry fail to implement necessary protective measures quickly, the union said in a statement on Monday.
“The ministry is risking face-to-face education by not taking the measures,” it said.
Some 18 million students and over one million teachers returned to schools in Turkey on Sept. 6.
Teaching was interrupted in 198 out of 850,000 classes in the first week of the new school year due to COVID-19 infections or close contact, Education Minister Mahmut Özer told state-run TRT Haber television on Sep.13.
“Keeping schools open is no longer just a matter of education, but of national security,” he said, adding that the government was determined to keep schools open even if cases increased. The government will make decisions affecting classes hit by the infections, not whole schools, Özer said.
The number of teachers who contracted COVID-19 or who were in close contact with infected people totalled 429 at the end of the second week of education, the union said. The corresponding number for students was 3,947. The government closed a high school in the northern Ordu province completely after an outbreak, it said.
There are a total of 71,320 schools in the country of which 57,108 are state-run.
Turkey registered 27,688 new COVID-19 infections and 231 deaths on Monday, the Health Ministry said.
Cases climbed above 20,000 daily in late July, reaching the highest levels since April, after the government ended daily curfews and travel restrictions at the start that month. New cases numbered less than 5,000 per day in early July.
The country has vaccinated some 42.36 million adults with two doses, according to Health Ministry data. Turkey has a population of around 85 million people, meaning the number equates to some 49.8 percent of citizens.
In the EU, the full inoculation rate among all age groups stands at 61.2 percent, according to ourworldindata.org.