Back to School: Romania’s health ministry unveils pandemic rules for the classroom

Foto: INQUAM/George Călin

Thousands of young Romanians haven’t been to school since the Covid-19 pandemic reached Romania in March, and have been learning online with varying degrees of success.

But President Klaus Iohannis, himself a former physics teacher, said earlier this month that most schools would re-open on September 14 as scheduled (had the pandemic not happened), except in areas where there were high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

He said the way each school functions will be decided locally, on a decentralized county level.

Towns with a single case per 1,000 people reported in the last 14 days will see all children back in classrooms. Those with up to three cases will see only kindergartners and a few grades back, with other classes held online.

The Romanian health ministry on Wednesday published a set of health and safety measures that schools, teachers and students will need to comply with when they start the new school year in September.

According to the draft document, classrooms need to be arranged to ensure at least one meter between desks. Where a one-meter gap isn’t possible, there will be transparent separators, like the ones that supermarket cashiers have, reported.

Students and staff alike will be obliged to wear face covering while they are at school, and contact between students from different classes will be limited.

The document also talks about firm cleaning and disinfection measures in the school” and “rigorous hand hygiene.”

“Schools will implement the general rules of this guide and adopt specific rules,” the documents which is up for public debate said.

The document looks at three scenarios for the reopening of schools which will take into consideration the epidemiological situation, regional specifics, and the infrastructure and human resources of each school,” said.

Authorities who manage disease prevention will decide between Scenario 1 – the daily participation of all pre-schoolers and students in schools, in compliance with the health and protection rules mentioned in the document.

Scenario 2 looks at a mixed return to school with pre-schoolers and students in primary school and students in the 8th and 12th grades going to school every day, and the partial return (on a 1-2 week rotation) of students from other middle and high school classes.

Scenario 3 is schools as most students at public schools have known it in the past few months, with  pre-schoolers and students only taking part in online activities and lessons.

Romania has extended a state of alert until mid-September and places some small towns and villages with spikes in the number of coronavirus cases are under localized quarantine.


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