Schools in Croatia will reopen on Sept. 7, Minister of Science and Education Radovan Fuchs said on Monday.
The new school year will start as planned despite a recent sharp rise in new COVID-19 cases.
Croatia has seen a surge of COVID-19 infections in August, with 306 new cases registered on Saturday alone, an all-time high since the outbreak started here in late February. There have been 136 new infections in Croatia in the last 24 hours as of Monday afternoon, and 2,212 cases remain active, according to the Croatian Institute of Public Health.
The minister presented during a press conference instructions for the beginning of the school year.
Schools will have to follow measures that are already in force in every-day life, such as physical distancing, reduction of contacts between groups, and extra hygiene precautions.
In addition, it is necessary to organize classes so that students come into contact only with their peers from the class and as few teachers as possible. In order to reduce contact between students, the classes will not start at the same time and some schools will work in two shifts.
Schools have to provide safe conditions for children and ensure a physical distance of at least 1.5 meters between them. It means that larger classes will be divided. In schools where that is not possible, wearing masks will be mandatory for higher classes and teaching staff.
“The basic rule is that those who have symptoms or knowledge that they are infected do not go to school, and all schools should prepare in detail and respect epidemiological measures,” the minister said.
He said that they are working on the possible online classes for those who are infected or in self-isolation.
The ministry is also working on a document that will elaborate on further details and different possible scenarios in case of a greater pandemic in the future.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak that started in the country on Feb. 25, Croatia suspended schools on March 16, and reopened them in late May, but only for classes from grades 1 to 4. Others finished the school year through online classes.