More than half of Romania’s school-age children want to return to school, with many saying they have been bored or stressed during the pandemic when school moved online, according to a study.
Teachers are also eager to return to the classroom with more than eight in ten saying schools were ready to reopen as long as Covid-19 protection measures were respected.
The release of the study by World Vision on Monday comes as education authorities review the situation and decide whether to reopen schools next month when the new school term begins.
The coronavirus pandemic has lead to the on and off closure of schools across Romania and meant hundreds of thousands of pupils were educated in online classes. The system has been least effective for vulnerable children, such as those without access to electronic devices or the internet. Some have dropped out of education or are lagging behind, according to reports.
Education Minister Sorin Campeanu said last week he wants schools to reopen, but only if coronavirus cases fall.
He said authorities would decide mid-January after reviewing the situation which would also take into account whether teaching or non-teaching staff had received the Covid vaccine.
The study by World Vision Romania which was released Monday revealed that one-third of school-age children were bored or stressed by remote learning.
One in five reported feeling confused, worried or sad and only one-quarter said they rarely had negative feelings associated with online learning.
Some 55% said they’d be happy to return to school, while one-third of school-age children said schools should be kept open regardless of the number of Covid-19 infections, as long as protection measures were n place and respected.
An overwhelming 84% of teachers said that schools were ready to reopen, as long as safety measures such as social distancing and compulsory masks were respected. Eight out of ten teachers questioned said they already had all they needed to respect safety standards at school.
Some 32% said they would need support from teachers to catch up or fill in gaps from the education in the past year.
On the other hand, 42% of pupils are concerned that they will be overwhelmed by a sudden return to school and one-third say they are stressed that they won’t be able to catch up.
„Continuing online school for all pupils, not taking into account infection rates or the real access of children to education will increase the school dropout rate and create major gaps in education for entire generations of school children,” a press statement said.
At the beginning of the school year, the government said local authorities could decide whether to keep schools open or closed depending on the number of Covid-19 cases. But in November, as cases soared, the government shut all public schools.
„We call for this decision to be taken into account and we call for physical school to resume for all vulnerable categories of pupils who haven’t had access to education,” said Mihaela Nabar, executive director of World Vision.
About 39% believe that schools should be closed only in high-risk areas, the study showed.
World Vision interviewed 1,490 pupils of all ages in urban and rural areas, and almost 500 teachers from December 2020 to January 2021.
World Vision International is a Christian humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy organization. It has been in Romania for 30 years works to eliminate poverty worldwide.