Gov’t issues emergency ordinance for the school start. President, in favor of schools resuming physical classes

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The Government has passed in its Wednesday sitting the emergency ordinance that amends the Education Law in the view of enforcing prevention measures against SARS-CoV-2 infection in kindergartens, schools and universities.

According to the draft, depending on the epidemiological situation, the school board council can propose, following consultations with the parents association, if the school is resumed in physical classes or online.

If the schools don’t have enough spaces to observe the social distancing rule, the school inspectorates can ask the public local administations (city halls) to provide them with proper spaces for the classes to take place.

In a press conference at Cotroceni Palace on Wednesday evening, President Klaus Iohannis has declared himself in favor of schools resuming classes with the pupils’ physical attendance.

“I encourage all to send their children at school if they are healthy. If children are sick, they must stay home and be checked by the family physician. It is that simple”, the President argued.

The head of state added he doesn’t believe there will be a boycott of the school year start, adding that he understands very well the concerns of the education trade unions regarding wage increases.

I don’t think there will be a boycott of the school year start, but I can very well understand their concerns. There has been talk about an earlier increase of wages – let’s be honest and admit it, for electoral purposes – because according to the Wage Law these increases should have come into effect in 2022. For a variety of reasons, there has been talks  to bring the pay rises forward, more precisely they were supposed to get a rise earlier this year and then another one before the start of the school year. Due to unfortunate reasons that have to do with the epidemic and the economic crisis, the budget has shrunk instead of growing and the government now has to manage what is left of the available budget,” Iohannis said.

He mentioned that “the 8 percent increase due at the beginning of the year has been already enforced”.

“So, this year the teaching staff received a wage increase. It is a fact, it is easy to verify, everyone can count their money at home. Due to budgetary constraints, unfortunately, the autumn increase is no longer possible and has been postponed for next year, when we are convinced that the economic situation will be better than this year, and when everyone hopes that this growth can be put into practice. This is regrettable, just as the impossibility to increase pensions and child allowances, but these are the available resources and this is what the government must operate with,” the head of state further explained.

According to him, the Ministry of Education has prepared online teaching platforms as well.

“I think that solutions can be found for each particular case. But we must start from a realistic premise: most schools will work with in-person attendance and where this is not possible, the best solutions must be found through collaboration between the Ministry of Education, the local authorities and inspectorates to facilitate access to learning for those children, so that theirs educations should not lag behind.”

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