Covid-19: Schools in Bulgaria’s capital, several municipalities go over to distance learning

Schools in Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia and municipalities in five other districts are going over to distance learning as of October 21, following an order issued by caretaker Education Minister Nikolai Denkov.

This follows the order issued by caretaker Health Minister Stoicho Katsarov, which says that schools in municipalities where the Covid-19 morbidity rate is 750 or above per 100 000 population on a 14-day basis must change from in-person to distance learning.

In Sofia, the operational headquarters had sent a proposal to Denkov and Katsarov that while the order should apply to the fifth to 12th grades immediately, pupils in the first to fourth grades should continue in-person classes at least until the end of the week.

Sofia municipality cited data on quarantined classes and the extremely short period before Katsarov’s order takes effect as the basis for its argument. It said that allowing primary school classes to go ahead until the end of the week would enable the parents of the youngest pupils to make arrangements.

In Sofia, four per cent of primary phase classes are quarantined, seven per cent of junior high school classes and eight per cent of high school classes.

Kindergartens and nurseries in Sofia will continue to operate in-person. The municipality said that the registered percentage of quarantined kindergarten children was just more than three per cent.

However, Denkov’s order covers all grades at schools, meaning that Sofia’s request appears not to have been upheld.

An October 20 meeting of the Sofia operational headquarters was told that directors of municipal hospitals and social services centres had reported a serious problem in organising work because of Katsarov’s order, which requires hospital and social services staff to have green certificates.

“A significant percentage of staff do not have the necessary certificates to ensure the operation of all departments and services tomorrow,” the municipality said in a statement.

In the coming days, Sofia municipality will organise additional vaccination points, the statement said.

The head of the Sofia health inspectorate, Dr Dancho Penchev, said that the registered morbidity in Sofia on a 14-day basis was 812 per 100 000 people.

Apart from Sofia, the other five districts where the Covid-19 morbidity rate exceeds 750 per 100 000 population are – according to the October 20 update by the unified information portal – Vidin (978.92), Gabrovo (827.13), Kyustendil (768.31), Montana (910.72) and Pernik (927.54).


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The Sofia Globe staff

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