Pupils in the seventh, eighth and 12th grades returned to schools in Bulgaria on February 4 for two weeks of in-person classes, after which they will rotate back to distance learning for a fortnight.
This adds about 170 000 pupils and 30 000 teachers to the in-person education process at schools, with close to 740 000 pupils and teachers already at school every day, after pupils in the first to fourth grades returned to school in early January.
In Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia, 1700 pupils submitted declarations that they wanted to remain on distance learning instead of returning to in-person classes.
Mask-wearing in class is mandatory.
Vaccination of teachers in Bulgaria against Covid-19 has begun. So far, about 1400 teachers have received injections, it was announced at a Health Ministry news conference on February 4.
Education Minister Krassimir Vulchev told a briefing that about 24 per cent of teachers in Bulgaria had said that they wanted to be vaccinated.
Against a background of recent figures showing a rise in the number of Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital in Bulgaria in the past week, Vulchev said that if the situation worsens, it was possible that pupils would return to distance learning.
February and March were risky from an epidemic point of view, “there is not yet a collective effect from the immunisations, you see all over the world the map is dark red, and in Europe. But there is no way we can stop living and learning, education is worth taking a risk for. If the situation worsens, the measures will be tightened,” he said.
He said that the good news was that first to fourth grade pupils were not lagging behind, as had happened in previous years with “flu vacations”, suspension of teaching because of influenza epidemics.
Health Minister Kostadin Angelov told the February 4 briefing that there were discussions about rapid antigen tests for school pupils, but this required co-ordination with the Education Ministry and with parents, because the tests were an invasive procedure that required parental consent.
In a separate announcement, Varna municipality said that testing of staff of kindergartens in the municipality would begin on February 8.
Seven hundred and thirty-six people out of a total of 1599 would be tested, as only people who had not had Covid-19 would be tested, the municipality said.
The Sofia Globe’s coverage of the Covid-19 situation in Bulgaria is supported by the Embassies of Switzerland and Finland.
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