Ministers of Education in the region explained to their citizens how the start of the new school year would look like, and the measures they have taken. However, in Albania information is yet to be clear. 4 weeks before the start of the new school year, the Minister of Education, Besa Shahini, made her first public statement on the new school year plan, failing to clarify any specific decision.
“In July, we designed a draft guideline with possible scenarios for the start of the new school year, aiming at returning to school, but the decision whether classes will be performed on a full or part-time basis or through blended learning, will be made by the coronavirus task force, when we approach the new school year start date, depending on the situation with the novel coronavirus.” – Minister of Education, Ms. Shahini informed on her communication on 17 August.
The following day, on 18 August, the Minister of Education gave another public statement, this time accompanied by the Minister of Health and Social Protection, Ms. Ogerta Manastirliu.
“We want to reopen schools for all pre-university students, but according to specifications of individual schools and blending home education, attending RTSH School, and online classes, in cases when a school or group of schools should be closed for purposes of school safety.” – Ms. Shahini said.
How is the situation in the countries of the region?
The situation in Kosovo is similar to that of our country. Kosovo is yet to make a final decision for the new school year classes, starting on 1 September, although it has foreseen 3 possible scenarios, which have been published on 10 August on the website of the Ministry of Education and Science in Kosovo.
“Scenario A foresees the return to school or classes in pre-school and school institutions, with preventive measures. Scenario B foresees the partial return to schools or blended learning both in institutions and online. Scenario C foresees E-education.
Organization of the classes has been foreseen for all education levels in the Republic of Kosovo.” – the official announcement states.
In a government meeting organized by the Ministry of Education and Science in Kosovo, Minister Ramë Likaj requested for the Government of Kosovo to make the final decision on the three scenarios of the new school year.
Unlike Albania and Kosovo, North Macedonia issued a final decision on the start of the new school year. In a press conference on 18 August, the Minister of Education and Science, Mr. Arbër Ademi published the following decision:
“Our final decision is that in principle, the new school year will be organized through contemporary electronic communication devices. So, we will have online classes.”
However, Mr. Ademi informed that students from the first to third grade will be an exception, as they can attend classes physically, if approved by their parents. Another exception is foreseen for communes, where schools have a low number of students, and upon their request, classes can be physically carried out at the necessary distance. However, parental consent is indispensable in this case as well.
In Serbia classes will start on 1st of September. Unlike the above-mentioned countries, Serbia will reopen schools, but it will be up to parents if children will physically go to school or attend classes through the available TV platform. The latter will have to go to school for exams only. Students that will physically go to school will have to wear a mask.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The new school year will start on 1st of September, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Classes will vary from 20 to 30 minutes, and not more than 15 students will be present in one classroom. Every child will sit alone in their desk, whereas schools will be disinfected during a short break. Children will have to wear a mask in school premises, but they are not obliged to wear it during classes. However, every canton may adopt their protection plan from coronavirus, depending on the epidemiological situation.
Going back to our country, despite the lack of decision-making thus far, the Minister of Health, Ms. Manastirliu, was optimistic about the start of the new school year. According to her, the thus far experience with opening schools and nursery schools did not lead to the increase of infected people, with the exception of sporadic cases.