Most schools will reopen across Romania next week after a drop in Covid-19 cases made it safe for students to return to physical school three months after they shut, the government confirmed Friday.
Education Minister Sorin Campeanu said almost 3,000 schools in places that are in the ‘green scenario’ would fully open, while 903 schools in areas in which there were a higher number of cases, including the capital, would partially reopen.
In the worst affected areas known as ‘the red scenario’ zone, schools will mostly remain closed except for kindergarten and primary schools up to the age of 11, the minister said at a news conference.
Bucharest which is also Romania’s biggest city is currently in the ‘yellow scenario’ with 1.9 cases per 1,000 residents on Friday. Kindergartens, primary school, and students taking end of school exams in the 8th and 12th and 13th grades will return to the classroom on Monday when the new term begins.
Schools closed in November as a precautionary measures as Covid-19 cases soared. Since then, students have taken part in distance learning, but there have been complaints that their education has lapsed and their welfare has suffered. Children in poorer, rural areas have been particularly vulnerable as many don’t have electronic devices or access to internet.
Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu said that as schools reopen, authorities would make Covid-19 tests and children could be tested, subject to parental approval.
The health minister said he wanted teachers to have had the vaccine. Romania is currently in the second stage of its vaccine rollout. The elderly, sick people and essential workers are eligible for shots in this phase.
Schools, restaurants and theaters were closed in November as cases soared, reaching up to 10,000 per day. Although cases have leveled off to less than 3,000 a day in recent weeks, infections still remain high in some places.
In towns with a high incidence of coronavirus cases, physical school will open to a limited number of pupils.
The Transylvanian cities of Cluj, Alba Iulia, Baia Mare and Timisoara in the southwest. Otopeni, Bragadiru and Popesti-Leordeni which are just outside Bucharest are also in the ‘red scenario’ as are Vatra Dornei and Radauti in northeast Romania.
The education minister said that schools would physically completely shut in any place where cases exceeded 6 cases per 1,000.
On Friday, the Strategic Communication Group said the capital and nine other counties were in the ‘yellow scenario’ of 1.5 to 3 cases per 1,000.
Timis in southwest Romania was s the only county in the ‘red scenario’ with 3.29 cases per 1,000 residents on Friday.
Romania added 2, 580 new Covid-19 cases on Friday and 73 virus-related deaths. Some 959 patients are severely ill.