Students in the pre-university education system in Romania returned to school online on Monday, after the winter holidays break.
The winter holidays break ended, so around 3 million students in the pre-university education system in Romania resumed classes on Monday, but still online, as in the previous months. Since March 2020, except for less than two months, September and November, children have no longer gone to school. Due to the new coronavirus pandemic, classes have been held exclusively online all over Romania, so the sequence of holidays and periods of school activity from home, in front of the computer, have become routine. On the one hand, the National Students’ Council has called for the decentralization of the decision on the way in which to resume classes, so that the children’s physical presence in schools should be possible in the many Romanian localities where the contamination rate is below 3 per one thousand inhabitants.
Recently, the Council has drawn a warning signal, arguing that doing school online is tiring, inefficient and completely unsustainable in the long run. There are many students, especially from disadvantaged areas and backgrounds, who do not have access to education because they do not have computers, tablets or internet connection. These students also need a plan to recuperate the information they have lost, because learning gaps accumulated since the start of the pandemic might no longer be bridged. At the same time, since the national exams are approaching, the National Students’ Council would like to discuss with the top-level decision makers about the exams organization, since they need to prepare more scenarios, for the tests to take place according to plan.
On the other hand, the Education Ministry officials announced that they would decide, by the end of this month, whether, in the second semester, which begins on February 8, children would be present physically at school or would carry on with distance learning. The education minister, Sorin Cîmpeanu, announced that the authorities’ top priorities were to reopen schools physically as well as to make up for the losses incurred by the education system during the pandemic. Minister Cîmpeanu also said that he would take into account the proposals made by students, parents and teachers, but that he would make a decision on how classes would unfold depending on the epidemiological situation. “I would like to believe that it is possible to reopen schools on February 8; we cannot lose another semester and an entire generation” the deputy Prime Minister Kelemen Hunor has recently pointed out. He does not rule out the scenario of school re-opening in stages and by region. (tr. L. Simion)