Children back to school with no pandemic protections; no textbooks for 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th graders

Children back to school with no pandemic protections; no textbooks for 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th graders

The 2022-23 school year will begin on Sept. 1 with no mandatory masks, no improved ventilation in crowded classrooms, no vaccinations against COVID-19 available for kids under 12, or any other protection measures for children, even immunocompromised ones, who are now required to attend school in person with no option for online classes to shield themselves and their families from a potentially deadly SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to health authorities.

“No additional protection measures will be reinstated apart from the mask mandate currently in force in hospitals, pharmacies, nursing homes and on public transit. None are being considered for schools at this time,” Commission for Infection Diseases spokesman Zlate Mehmedovikj told MIA.

Some 255 thousand elementary and high school students are going back to school on Thursday amid the airborne pandemic. For some of them, not only coronavirus protections are lacking but also textbooks will be unavailable because they are “in various stages of approval,” according to education authorities.

Because they are not ready yet, textbooks for first, second, fourth and fifth grade will be late this year, officials said.

These grades have been switched to a new curriculum in line with education reforms that started in the 2021-22 school year, when first graders and fourth graders were given digital textbooks only.

A year later, the Ministry of Education and Science said that in order to maintain continuity, together with the Education Development Bureau, it has prepared “appropriate teaching materials for these students to study from at the beginning of the school year.”

Textbooks will be available for the other grades following the old curriculum. High schoolers will also receive their textbooks on time. In addition to printed copies, their textbooks should be also available at e-ucebnici.mon.gov.mk.