Monday is the official opening day of the new term for universities across Turkey, although many are scheduled to start classes later in September and October. Higher learning institutions are returning to full working hours after more than a year of disruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although grade schools were opened exclusively for in-person education earlier this month, universities will follow a hybrid education model supported by online classes. Throughout the last school term, students were confined to online education under measures against the pandemic.
As the pandemic prevails and sees a new surge, authorities have implemented a new series of measures for a return to school for university students. All will be integrated with the Health Ministry's digital monitoring systems, enabling the tracking of COVID-19 positive students and staff and those who came into contact with the infected.
The Health Ministry issued a set of guidelines for the prevention of infections at campuses that include mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing rules along with proper ventilation of enclosed spaces and the reduction of class hours and the number of students allocated for each classroom. Universities are also advised to divide their education programs between online and in-person education, with at least 40% of classes held remotely. Authorities also urged students and academics to get their two doses of coronavirus vaccines.
Each university can choose which education model they will implement, though most announced that the majority of classes would be held in-person while a small fraction of courses feasible for online education will be held remotely. Some universities announced that the only option available for unvaccinated students and academics will be online classes if they do not regularly present negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results.
Turkey lifted almost all restrictions related to the pandemic in July, including curfews after a strict COVID-19 lockdown. It gradually allowed the reopening of most venues, while speeding up its vaccination program. Vaccination is viewed as instrumental for a return to pre-pandemic conditions in the country.
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