Turkey to reopen schools on Aug. 31 with distance learning amid pandemic | Daily Sabah

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Turkey will start the 2020-2021 school year on Aug 31. initially with remote education. A gradual return to classrooms is scheduled for Sept. 21, Education Minister Ziya Selçuk said Wednesday.

“COVID-19 pandemic preparations had been made in schools and the decision was taken through the advisory of Health Ministry,” the minister said in a news conference after a meeting of Turkey’s science board to discuss measures to combat the outbreak.

Selçuk added that private schools will be able to begin distance education by Aug. 17.

“Health conditions of students and parents will be monitored,” Selçuk said.

The minister noted that a team of more than 2,000 people was created to inspect school campuses across the country.

Selçuk said the decision is based on advice from the scientific committee advising the government, which met on Wednesday before the minister’s formal announcement.

Schools and universities were shut down in March along with most public spaces as Turkish authorities rushed to prevent the virus outbreak crippling the country’s health system.

Last month the Ministry of Education signed a cooperation deal called “Hygiene and prevention of infection guidelines” with the Ministry of Industry and Technology that spelled out an expansive list of precautions that would be taken at schools.

Explaining the deal, Selçuk said precautions were tailored to each school across the country. A team of more than 2,000 people was created for the sole purpose of inspecting the individual specifications of campuses, and the draft measures were approved by the Turkish Standards Institution (TSE). Procedures were then further optimized after discussions with the administrative staff of each campus.

To keep schools informed of any changes depending on the outbreak’s course, a software program was implemented nationwide, which also serves to educate staff on how to properly carry out any newly implemented plans.

In addition, an inspection team was formed and trained in line with TSE guidelines to review campuses throughout the school year for compliance and flag any violations.

A similar guideline was prepared to educate parents and children about how to better protect themselves, as well as offer up-to-date information regarding the ministry’s announcements.

Apart from the Education Ministry’s precautions, another set of measures was announced by the Ministry of Health. In early July, it listed the general precautions that would be carried out across all schools without exception.

Students will have their temperatures checked as they enter campuses, and they will only be allowed in one by one to avoid creating crowds.

Every person on campus will be required to wear a face mask and schools will provide students with one if they don’t have any. Kindergarten and elementary school teachers will also have to wear a face shield. Masks will also be required on school buses.

Halls will have disinfectant dispensers mounted on walls. Visitors won’t be allowed inside except for urgent situations. Staff will hold meetings via teleconference to avoid gathering in meeting rooms.

Classrooms will have students’ desks spaced 1 meter (3.28 feet) apart, while the general occupancy of the school will be limited at one person per 4 square meters.

Cafeterias will have tables spread out and students will go there at different times. They will be required to disinfect their hands before and after entering. Food and beverages will be served with disposable plates and cups.