Education Minister Sorin Cimpeanu on Wednesday voiced readiness to sign together with the health minister a change in their joint order that says when the 14-day cumulative COVID-19 reporting rate exceeds six per one thousand population schools will switch to virtual classes, but he added that he would do so after talks with all those entitled to rule and only based on a decision of the National Committee for Emergency Situations (CNSU).
“We have two options at the moment: either we stick to the provisions of the joint order of the education minister and the health minister saying that when the reporting rate of 6 per 1,000 population is exceeded, all schools go online, except for special schools, for therapy for students with special educational needs, kindergartens and nurseries, all of which remain open. (…) The second option – if the discussion we want to have today with the officials of the Ministry of Health, CNCAV [National COVID-19 Vaccination Coordination Committee], CNSU, INSP [National Public Health Institute] points to the risk being manageable by the benefits worked out by the Ministry of Education from the perspective of in-person instruction, then I am fully willing to sign with the health minister the amendment to the joint order based on a CNSU decision that will have the value of a government decision,” Cimpeanu told a news conference at the Ministry of Education.
According to him, this state of the play must first be discussed, then a common denominator must be found, transposed in a CNSU decision and, finally, in a government decision. Thus, the education minister and the health minister will be entitled to modify the scenario for the operation of classes, so that it can be made public by Friday.
“We have made a public commitment to announce on Friday how schools will operate next week,” the minister said.
He added that throughout the day he would have meetings with all those “entitled to speak out” on “a balance of manageable risk versus benefits.”
“More precisely, it is about the desire to consolidate a common denominator for the operation of schools. (…) We receive a lot of requests in that regard: I am convinced that all those entitled to decide will look for that common denominator in the interest of the students both from an educational perspective and from a health perspective,” Cimpeanu also said.
He warned that the scenario and rules by which the schools will operate starting next week must be announced before Friday.
“By Friday, as we have already announced, we will have to announce as clearly as possible, because Friday is the day we announce the scenario for next week, what the rules are. If we keep the same rules or if, as desired by those in education, if those in the health area agree, we will be able to follow the suit of kindergartens and schools, which stay open until a certain number of COVID-19 cases is reached,” added the minister.
If the incidence of 6 per thousand is exceeded on Friday, according to today’s rules, schools move online
The Minister of Education, Sorin Cimpeanu, declared that according to the current “rules”, if on Friday the infection rate with the new coronavirus is over six per thousand, starting on Monday the schools will move to online courses. However, personally, he chooses that the educational units carry out didactic activity with physical attendance.
“My colleagues have centralized in the Ministry of Education the petitions received today: 183 petitions (parents, teachers) for passing to online school, 175 petitions for keeping the schools open with physical attendance. (…) There are many antagonistic proposals. Some want schools closed once the threshold of six per thousand is reached, they are very scared. (…) Others want them to stay open even after six per thousand. (…) In Bucharest, for example, where today we have 5.57, in Cluj we have 5.59, they are very close to six per thousand – the reference day is Friday – if on Friday it exceeds six per thousand, according to today’s rules, in the evening, at the time we are talking, the schools go online, except for special schools. However, nurseries and kindergartens remain open with a physical attendance. (…) Now, we all wonder how we chose this limit of six in one thousand. (…) When that threshold of six per thousand was set, many people were convinced that we would never get close to it again,” Cimpeanu said on Tuesday evening at Digi 24 private television broadcaster.
He said he would do “anything” to keep the schools open with a physical attendance.
“If by Friday a common opinion based on the experience of those with medical competence… what we, those in Education, want is less important, as if they asked me, apart from anything, I would say: ‘yes, I want to do everything so that the schools stay open with a physical attendance. It’s just that my point of view is not decisive, because I don’t have medical, much less epidemiological competence,” the representative of the Ministry of Education specified.
Cimpeanu mentioned that a survey conducted at a school in Bucharest showed that 99% of parents do not want to test their children.
“I am very sad. I just found out the answer to a survey in a school in Bucharest in which 99% of parents said they do not agree with the tests, be they nasal, pharyngeal or saliva extract,” he added, according to Agerpres.