by Leo Kendrick
Schools in Turkey are slated to open their doors this Monday, September 6th, following a year and a half of distance learning and a series of brief, partial reopenings. Following a meeting on Thusday evening (2 September), Turkey’s Minister of Education, Minister of Health, and Minister of the Higher Education Council (YÖK), detailed the reopening plans for face-to-face education, including planned coronavirus precautions and the possibility of a blended or hybrid model if the need arises later this term.
Announcing that face-to-face instruction would resume five days a week starting Monday, Minister of Education Mahmut Özer stated following that significant investments had been made in ensuring the safety of students and faculty, including shipments of masks, disinfectants, and hygiene materials. Özer also announced major investments in cleaning staff, saying: “We have employed 113,000 cleaning personnel. During this pandemic period we will have strength to meet our schools’ hygienic needs.” Without getting into specific details, the Education Minister suggested that another closure could be possible if precautions were not followed: “It is our responsibility to avoid another interruption in education…Schools must be the first places to open and the last places to close.”
Minister of Health Fahrettin Koca emphasized the importance of vaccination, urging citizens once again to get the jab and continue to follow coronavirus safety precautions. “Everyone please support us,” the Health Minister was quoted as saying.
YÖK Minister Erol Özvar, speaking on the return of university students to classes, mentioned that although classes had been conducted remotely over the past three semesters, university campuses themselves had not been closed, and students had been allowed to come to campuses as they pleased. According to Özvar, a guide on coronavirus precautionary measures has been prepared by the Health Ministry and will be sent to universities as they prepare to start the term later this month.
Because of uncertainty over the course the pandemic could take in Turkey this fall, Minister Özvar mentioned that hybrid or blended education models would also be possible, and that he encouraged university students wishing to attend in-person classes to receive the vaccine. For students aged 15 and up, vaccination is optional. For those above the age of 12 with chronic health conditions, vaccination is also an option.
Twice-weekly PCR tests will be mandatory for unvaccinated university students and employees, as well as uncaccinated teachers and personnel in grade schools. Similar requirements for unvaccinated citizens have also been announced for intercity travel, concert, and cinema attendance.