Romania’s Prime Minister Ludovic Orban has confirmed that students will return to state schools on September 14.
However, Orban did not expressly say whether the majority of pupils would return to the classroom of whether they would continue online learning which began when the pandemic spread to Romania in the spring.
Parents, teachers and trade unions have expressed doubts whether it is safe to reopen schools as Romania has seen a surge in coronavirus cases in recent weeks.
The government has said that schools will reopen depending on the number of Covid-19 cases in the area. Most private schools have already started the new school year.
Orban said that he believed children “are safer at school. In the holidays they had more interaction than they will have at school,” he said. “We will look for solutions and we will intervene where there are problems. “
“The way schools open will depend on the spread of the virus,” he said.
Romania reported 883 new Covid-19 cases on Monday and reported 33 deaths for the same period. However, as it was the weekend, only 7,200 tests were carried out, about one-third of the usual weekday tests.
Last week, Orban broached the possibility of starting school in online mode and only allowing pupils back to the classrooms after local elections on September 27.
“School will begin on September 14 and the elections will be held on September 27,” Orban said on Monday.
The opposition Social Democrats have criticized government dithering about how students will return to school. They suggested that the new school year and the elections should be delayed if there are doubts about safety.
Social Democrat leader Marcel Ciolacu said if the government postpones the return to school the party will push to get elections moved back.
But Orban poured scorn on the idea. “It’s ridiculous what the Social Democrats are saying,: just as their failed motion of no-confidence was, he said referring to the fact that the party failed to muster a quorum for the vote to take place.
The Social Democrats, which are Romania’s largest party, are trailing badly in opinion polls to the Liberals which have a minority government.