It was a back-to-school-Tuesday for Hungarian youngsters and children as schools reopened with a set of special precautions due to the novel coronavirus.
At the prestigious Dániel Berzsenyi Secondary School in Budapest, children are finishing the first day, most of them smiling and taking their masks off, while stepping out onto the street.
“It was only a half-day, with no real teaching,” Peti Müller, 17, told Xinhua. “They told us what to expect in the school-year. We received our time-tables, and they told us how to behave because of the virus.”
Müller, who was sad to learn that the number of his Latin courses increased, explained that the wearing of the masks was advised in classes, and compulsory in the corridors.
“Teachers and senior students will make sure that social distancing is also kept and that children sanitize their hands on a regular basis,” he said.
The Ministry of Human Capacities, in charge of education in Hungary, developed a detailed, eight-page recommendation and protocol, which was sent to the directors of each and every establishment.
The suggestions also cover distance, disinfection, or how to get to school in order to avoid crowds. There are also recommendations on how to avoid congestion when pupils arrive at school, such as having multiple doors open in order to enter the institutions, Hungarian news agency MTI said.
Suggestions also include the size of classrooms, the use of community rooms, the start of school, and the creation of appropriate catering conditions. It is also highly recommended to keep physical education classes outdoors depending on the weather.
During the lessons, tasks involving close physical contact should be avoided if possible.
Hand disinfection will be available at the school gate and in each community room. Each school, with a specific disinfectant, undergoes thorough cleaning at the beginning of the school year and this disinfection should be repeated every day, according to MTI report.
Parents are asked not to let the child into school in case of the slightest symptoms.
Teachers, administrative staff and janitors of schools and kindergarten are also asked not to go to the community if they notice any of the symptoms.
In the Budapest’s southern district of Budafok, Beáta Balatoni, 47, struggles with her two sons and one daughter in front of the Arpad elementary school.
“My little one is just starting school, he is six, so I should really pay attention to him. It is a big day, and my older kids tell me all these regulations due to the COVID-19,” she told Xinhua.
“So I have to listen to all of them speaking at the same time, not easy!” she added.
“I am very happy that schools reopened. I have to work, and it would be very hard to guard the kids, making sure that they sit in front of the computer and do their work properly. It has been a real challenge in the spring during the lockdown,” she said.
Her opinion matches that of a recent representative survey published Tuesday by the Nézőpont Institute in the daily Magyar Nemzet, showing that
78 percent of Hungarians agree with the reopening of schools.
“This is a significant confirmation for the government, as the consent of society is essential on issues that are equally important, not only for the adoption of decisions, but also for their implementation,”
Nézőpont said, adding that the Hungarians were for the reopening of schools regardless of their political preferences.