Three opposition parties on Saturday proposed measures to ease the burden on the parents of schoolchildren, after the government announced temporary closure of Hungarian elementary and high schools as part of measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Democratic Coalition (DK) has come up with six proposals regarding school shutdowns, lawmaker Gergely Arató told a press conference.
DK proposes payment of full wages for parents who stay at home with their children to protect grandparents from a possible infection, Arató said.
He called on the government to organise day care for the children of policemen, soldiers, health-care workers, journalists and others whose position does not allow a lengthy leave.
Children from disadvantaged families should continue to have access to free school lunches, he said.
Regarding a transition to digital teaching materials, Arató proposed that channels of the public television should broadcast elementary school materials which then should be made available on the internet. Arató also called on the government to make a decision on the shutdown of kindergartens and creches.
At a separate press conference, Socialist lawmaker Ágnes Kunhalmi said the prime minister was late in recognising the “right thing to do”, insisting that Viktor Orbán on Friday morning “threatened” teachers with an unpaid leave and students with having to repeat the year in the case of a school shutdown. He then ordered the shutdown on Friday night, Kunhalmi said.
Kunhalmi also proposed that public television channels broadcast the teaching materials for 1-4th graders while 5-8th graders’ and high school students materials should be available online. She called on the government to close kindergartens.
Kunhalmi said that the final exams of high schools, originally scheduled to begin on May 4, should not be postponed. All legal and technical means are available to organise the exams, possibly only in written form, she said.
Local authorities will need additional resources and protective gear to handle the state of emergency (the government announced on Wednesday), Kunhalmi said. She insisted that 600 billion forints (EUR 1.8bn) could be “easily” reallocated in the central budget to coronavirus response. This could be done by using the 450 billion forint in budget reserve, halving the 100-billion-forint budget of the public media and by stripping the “propaganda ministry” of its entire 150 billion forint allocation, Kunhalmi said.
Meanwhile, green LMP called on the government to shut down shopping centres to avoid pupils gathering there during the temporary school shutdown.