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Infectious Diseases Commission submits proposal on school reopening, gov’t to make final decision

The Commission for Infectious Diseases issued at its Thursday meeting a final recommendation regarding the reopening of schools, after the Government decided Tuesday to share with it the Ministry of Education and Science’s report and plan on instruction in school year 2020/2021. 

Skopje, 14 August 2020 (MIA) – The Commission for Infectious Diseases issued at its Thursday meeting a final recommendation regarding the reopening of schools, after the Government decided Tuesday to share with it the Ministry of Education and Science’s report and plan on instruction in school year 2020/2021.

The Commission proposed that, depending on the epidemiological situation, pupils up to third grade and those attending schools with small class sizes go back to school, while the rest of the students take online classes.

Deputy Minister of Education and Science Elizabeta Naumovska told MIA on Friday that the coordination crisis HQ asked the Education Ministry to amend learning models’ protocols based on the proposal made by the Infectious Diseases Commission and submit a list the schools eligible to hold in-person classes. She added that the government will probably discuss protocols at a session next week, once they are revised in line with Commission proposal.

Education Minister Arber Ademi, who advocates the back-to-school plan depending on the epidemiological situation, said that the Commission’s proposal is a compromise between the Education Ministry’s position favoring in-person classes and health authorities’ recommendations for remote learning.

The Education Ministry’s plan is composed of three models – classroom-based learning with compliance with all anti-coronavirus measures and 1,5-meter distance, distance learning or online classroom and a blended approach, designed mainly for schools with a large number of students. They would be divided into smaller groups – one group attending classes in the schools for one week while the rest are online at the same classes.

Moreover, draft-protocols propose that classes are cut down to 30 minutes in elementary schools and 35 minutes in high schools.

Minister Ademi hinted at a press conference on Wednesday that the start of the school year could be delayed as any model would require amendments to the laws on elementary and secondary education for which a functional Parliament is needed.

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