Although caution will be exercised due to a second coronavirus wave in most neighboring countries, Hungary will likely begin the 2020/2021 school year on Monday in a traditional form, Minister Of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler said on Tuesday.
“The [coronavirus] situation in the surrounding countries is in flux, and the spread of the pandemic is difficult to predict, which is why public education must be prepared for prevention and defense,” Kásler said, adding his ministry in cooperation with the National Public Health Center has issued a set of detailed instructions and protocols for all public education institutions.
He said that according their specifics needs, schools can choose the most appropriate measures from the protocols, but before the school year starts on Monday, all schools will undergo a thorough disinfection which will be repeated at the end of every day until as long as it is necessary.
While teachers and pupils will not have to wear face masks, every visitor must and disinfectant stations will be installed in all schools and classrooms will be reorganized for safe social distancing. Several other measures will be implemented to avoid the formation of crowds within schools, including a staggered break system between classes.
Among Hungary’s neighbors, the number of new infections has been on a rapid rise since the beginning of the month in Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina (where it hit a new peak), and the Czech Republic, which on Tuesday saw the third highest number of new infections since the outbreak of the pandemic.
János Szlávik, chief infectologist at the South Buda Hospital — the main coronavirus treatment facility in Hungary — told national news agency MTI on Wednesday that caution must be exercised as the beginning of the school year and the onset of colder autumn weather could lead to a rise in the number of cases in Hungary, which has so far managed to avoid a second peak.
He added, however, that recent experience in Britain — where the school year has already begun — indicates that school attendance in itself has not led to a higher concentration of new cases.
He also said that Hungary will probably have to shortly reclassify neighboring countries according to their levels of coronavirus infections. Hungary currently has a three-tier pandemic classification of red-amber-green for all countries.
Title image: Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler holding a press conference on the 2020/2021 school year on August 25 in Budapest. (MTI/Szilárd Koszticsák)