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Turkey scales back school reopening amid rise in COVID-19 cases

September 8, 2020 at 7:15 pm

A student watches his lecture from the TV within the distance education program, on 23 March 2020 in Ankara, Turkey [Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey announced on Tuesday it was scaling back plans to reopen schools later this month, with only the youngest pupils beginning classes at first, for up to two days a week.

Fatalities from the coronavirus have jumped to their highest since mid-May when lockdowns were in place.

The government has said it does not plan to reintroduce a full lockdown but has urged Turks to follow social distancing and hygiene measures to curb the virus. Masks have been made mandatory.

Last month, Education Minister Ziya Selcuk announced that schools, mostly shut since March, would start to reopen on September 21. On Tuesday, however, he said only pre-school and first-year pupils would attend in-person classes at first, with further reopening plans to be determined during an evaluation period of three weeks.

“We support a more controlled and gradual start in our country,” he said in a written statement. Schooling will include a mix of remote and in-person learning.

Children in the first school year would attend for one day during an “adaptation week” and then two days in the following weeks. Parents who do not want to send their children to school can opt to continue remote education, he said.

READ: Istanbul to limit indoor gatherings over pandemic