After testing the waters for a full reopening, Turkey is preparing to allow all students to return to schools for in-person education on Nov. 23.
First-graders were the first to start in-person classes in September, and gradually, the country rolled out in-person classes for other grades, in line with the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the closure of schools last term. On Nov. 2, fifth and ninth grades will go back to school, and on Nov. 23, sixth, seventh, 10th and 11th grades will be the last batch of students to resume in-person education, according to plans by the Ministry of National Education.
The Health Ministry’s Coronavirus Scientific Advisory Board, which issues recommendations to the government for new restrictions or lifting restrictions, will serve as the guide for the reopening. The board gives advice based on the data regarding the pandemic although the ultimate decisions are usually relegated to local pandemic boards in each of the 81 provinces. The ministry, which took a set of strict measures to protect millions of students, has charted a road map mixing in-person education with online classes amid uncertainty over the outbreak. The board will brief the ministry by Nov. 16 on pandemic trends following the reopening of schools in September. Just as with the other grades, in-person education will be limited to two days a week and gradually increased depending on the data.
In-person classes are not mandatory, but students are required to attend online live classes if they skip school. Minister of National Education Ziya Selçuk recently announced that student turnout at schools reached “near 80%.” “This is higher than we expected,” Selçuk has underlined.
Schools currently enforce strict hygiene measures. Staff and students are required to wear masks, and social distancing is enforced, with parents not allowed to enter the school premises. An online education network set up by the ministry oversees the progress of students.