When are schools re-opening? Romanians are waiting for the authorities’ answer.
The reopening of schools in Romania has become a national security issue. As of March 2020, except for less than two months, in the period September –November, children have no longer gone to school. Due to the new coronavirus, classes are being currently held exclusively online all over the country, consequently, on Monday, at the end of the winter holidays break, about three million pre-university students resumed classes ... from home. The National Students' Council has drawn a warning signal that online schooling is tiring, inefficient and completely unsustainable in the long run, and that many students, especially from disadvantaged areas, do not have access to education because they do not have computers, tablets or internet connection. That is why many students need a plan to recuperate the information lost because learning gaps accumulated since the start of the pandemic might no longer be bridged.
Important organizations such as UNICEF and World Vision Romania! have also drawn a warning signal. The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF advocates for keeping schools open or for reopening them. Executive Director Henrietta Fore criticizes the decision of the authorities from many countries which have closed schools, some for almost a year, even though, she says, there is evidence that it is not the schools that fuel the pandemic. The consequences are numerous and devastating, and the most vulnerable children carry all the burden - Henrietta Fore added. A World Vision survey shows that, in Romania, over 80% of teachers and 70% of students believe that schools should be reopened or can remain closed only in those areas with a high risk of contamination. The foundation has called for the observance of the decentralization of decision-making in the education field and for the urgent reopening of schools, according to the contamination rate reported in each and every locality, as well as for special attention to be granted to children from vulnerable categories, especially from rural areas. Major learning gaps and dropping out of school can affect an entire generation - World Vision representatives believe.
The education minister, Sorin Cîmpeanu, wants students and teachers to return to school as soon as possible, but only depending on the epidemiological context. He says that, in addition to the infection rate, another decisive factor in deciding on the re-opening of schools will be the availability of teachers to be vaccinated. According to minister Sorin Cîmpeanu, data provided so far show that almost half of the teachers from the pre-university education system want to be vaccinated. The percentage is higher – more than 60% - in the university system. (tr. L. Simion)