Bulgaria’s Education Minister: Schools go to distance learning if 20% of pupils have symptoms of coronavirus or flu

Bulgaria’s Education Minister Krassimir Vulchev said on October 21 that schools would close and switch to distance learning when 20 per cent of pupils showed symptoms consistent with the new coronavirus or flu.

“When seasonal flu is compounded by the coronavirus, the situation will become more difficult, that is why we opted for this rule,” Vulchev said on the breakfast show of private broadcaster bTV.

If schools were shut down, the older pupils would be the first to switch to distance learning, while the youngest would continue in a classroom environment as long as possible, he said.

Vulchev said that distance learning would be employed throughout the school year, ending the practice of suspending the learning process during influenza epidemics.

He said that pupils would not have to wear masks inside classrooms, but would be required to do so when outside, where there was a higher risk of mingling between pupils in different classes.

Under the guidelines issued by the ministry before the start of the school year last month, pupils in different classes are to be kept separate as much as physically possible, so that in case of infection, only one class has to go into quarantine, as opposed to the entire school.

In a separate development regarding Covid-19 in Bulgaria, two districts were added to the “red zone” list, bringing the total to eight out of 28.

The districts newly added to red zone list are Montana and Stara Zagora. To be classified as a red zone, a district must have more than 120 infected per 100 000 population.

The eight districts, with the number of infections to date, are Sofia 8819, Plovdiv 2846, Blagoevgrad 2846, Stara Zagora 1205, Sliven 950, Shoumen 695, Turgovishte 615, Montana 375 and Razgrad 356.

In 12 districts in Bulgaria, the number of infected is between 60 and 119 per 100 000.

Vidin is the only district classified as a green zone, with the rate of infected now less than 20 per 100 000.

Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said that Belgium was reclassifying three regions of Bulgaria from the orange to the red zone, and three to the orange zone, as of October 21.

The three regions reclassified as red are the north-east (the districts of Varna, Dobrich, Shoumen and Turgovishte), south-east (the districts of Bourgas, Sliven, Yambol and Stara Zagora) and south-west (Sofia city, Sofia district, the districts of Blagoevgrad, Pernik and Kyustendil).

Moving to the orange zone, meaning no travel restrictions, are the north-west, north-central and south-central regions.

Those arriving from a red zone are subject to a mandatory test for new coronavirus if they show symptoms of the disease. Depending on their answers on the self-assessment questionnaire attached to the Public Passenger Locator Form, those arriving from a red zone may be subject to a mandatory 10-day quarantine.

Everyone travelling to Belgium by aircraft or ship is required to complete and send electronically, before they before travel, but not earlier than 48 hours before arrival in Belgium, a Public Health Passenger Locator Form.

For passengers with another mode of transport, filling in the form is mandatory only for a stay in Belgium exceeding 48 hours. A traveller filling in the form correctly will receive a Confirmation Code as a text message, to be shown when checking in and boarding.

A total of 840 tour operators and travel agents in Bulgaria have applied for grants, issued under the EU funds operational programme for competitiveness, to counter the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their business.

The amount allocated for grants was 10 million leva (about 5.1 million euro), but total applications exceeded 64 million leva, according to the Economy Ministry. The applications would be processed within the next month, daily Sega quoted Tourism Minister Mariana Nikolova as saying.

President Roumen Radev’s office said on October 21 that a test for new coronavirus, done yesterday after his return from Estonia’s capital city Tallinn, had proven negative.

The result came out late last night and was confirmed by the National Reference Laboratory, the President’s office said.

This is Radev’s second negative coronavirus test for two consecutive days and the third in a week, according to the President’s office.

Radev was tested on Monday in Tallinn, and the result was negative.

He cut short his visit to Estonia, returning on October 20. The President’s office said that the reason for this was the complicated pandemic situation related to the spread of new coronavirus.

(Photo: Bulgaria’s Ministry of Education)

The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria is supported by the Embassy of Switzerland.

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of the Covid-19 situation, please click here.

The Sofia Globe is an independent media outlet, free of ties to any corporate or political groups. For as little as three euro a month or the equivalent in other currencies, you can support The Sofia Globe via patreon.com and get access to exclusive subscriber-only content. Please click on the “Become a patron” button below:

Become a Patron!

The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=32709292