UPDATE. Public schools in Romania to remain closed after the Christmas break as Covid-19 cases stay high

Foto: INQUAM/George Călin

Romania’s new education minister has dashed hopes that pupils can return to the classrooms next week after the Christmas break saying it’s too early to take the risk while cases remain high.

As coronavirus cases soared in November, authorities imposed a curfew, shut schools and made masks compulsory in public across the country to limit the spread  of the virus. Pupils have been learning online since then.

The new minister, Sorin Campeanu, on Monday Sunday he wants to give the green light to schools to reopen, but cases need to subside first.

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 anti-Covid vaccine.

„I can’t speak before the review has been carried out,” he told Hotnews. „In the case where we have school staff inoculated, that will also be an important element in reaching a decision.”

Romania has reported fewer fresh cases in recent weeks, but testing has dropped dramatically over the festive season and it’s unclear what the epidemiological situation actually is. On Sunday, there were 3,034 new Covid-19 cases, but only 9,829 tests were carried out, giving a high positivity rate of almost 31%.

Mr. Campeanu told ProTV on Sunday that it was “too soon” to reopen schools on Jan. 11 when pupils return after the holidays, but he wants “schools to open as soon as possible.”

“The return to (physical) school will happen also taking into account what other states who are facing the same problems are doing,” he said.

The minister confirmed Monday that there were tentative plans to reopen schools on Feb. 8 when the new Spring term begins, depending on the circumstances.

Education officials are discussing with health officials about the optimum time to reopen kindergartens and primary schools, which may reopen before high schools.

Other proprieties are students in the VIII and XII grades who are sitting exams and youngsters who have had trouble adapting to remote learning for various reasons.

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