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Turkish preschoolers, first graders return to school with caution amid COVID-19 resurgence

Global Times

Source: Xinhua Published: 2020/9/22 10:22:43

Preschoolers and first graders in Turkey returned to school on Monday, though with limited in-class lessons given the resurgence in new COVID-19 infections.

The new Turkish academic year had been launched on Aug. 31 in the form of remote teaching and learning through national broadcaster TRT's Education Information Network.

"My husband and I were hesitant to send our son to school, but we were convinced when we saw that his school took the necessary precautions," Serap Belek, a catering firm worker, told Xinhua outside a public primary school in the capital Ankara.

All students are given a body temperature check before entering their classrooms where hand sanitizer dispensers are attached to the walls. The two-person school desk now only allows one student to sit at, and pupils only have to attend school one day a week until a new decision is made in October.

Education Minister Ziya Selcuk previously said swift measures will be taken once students' families or contacts are diagnosed with coronavirus.

At a private school in Ankara, teachers and education staff welcomed new pupils equipped with thermometers, disinfectants and face masks.

"We are ready to do our utmost to make the children feel they are in a space of learning and keep them safe throughout the day," said Zeynep Akinci, a worker of the private school.

The coronavirus pandemic is intensifying again in Turkey with between 1,500 and 1,700 daily confirmed cases but at varying rates in different provinces, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said last week.

"People, unfortunately, ignore the warnings ... The number of virus cases increased in Ankara and Istanbul," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul on Friday.

"We now have to tighten the measures again," Erdogan noted.

Urging the citizens to follow social distancing and mandatory mask wearing, the Turkish government, however, plans no re-imposition of a full lockdown.

Some parents have decided not to send their children to school at this stage as they believe online education would be more suitable and safer.

"My wife and I decided not to send our daughter to school for the next few months at least. Despite disinfection efforts in schools, we are concerned that she may bring the virus into our family," Timur Soykan, an accountant, told Xinhua over the phone.

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