Serbia's anti-epidemic Crisis Team decided that the pupils from the first to the fourth year of primary education would be back to classrooms as of the beginning of new school year in September, but teachers and parents seemed to be in a panic about how that would work.
The decision stipulates that no more than 15 pupils will be in a classroom, and lessons will last 30 instead of the usual 45 minutes.
Also, the pupils and teachers will have to wear face masks and be at the safe physical distance, and that the schools must be disinfected after the first group of pupils end lessons.
Education Minister Mladen Sarcevic told Tuesday’s coronavirus news briefing that the plan for next school year is the least bad solution at this time, adding that the proposed model can be changed depending on the situation. He said that parents can decide if they want their children to go to school or take classes online.
However, Jasna Jankovic, the head of the Union of Educators, told N1 that the Education Ministry did not consult the teachers about the start of the new school year on September 1.
"What I have understood is that everyone is in total panic – teachers, headmasters and parents," she said.
Jankovic added that the decision meant the schools would need two teachers if the pupils were divided into two groups, i.e., that they would work double shifts. She announced that if that happened, she would demand a 30 percent wage increase.
She also warned that many classrooms were not big enough to secure the physical distance between the pupils.
"The other problem is that we fired teachers, cleaning women, pedagogues, psychologists… And now, you demand that a cleaning woman maintains 450 square meters in 20 or 30 minutes! I can't believe that (the Education Minister Mladen) Sarcevic doesn't know how long a cleaning woman works," Jankovic said.
She also warned about the parents' problem in organising the children's care.
"We expect the (Education) Ministry to give us clear instructions. What will happen if we don't have enough personnel, who will pay for disinfection, how will we get all that… We have schools without running water…" Jankovic said.