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Ms Kustec, Mr Vrtovec and Mr Zajc on the opening of schools, kindergartens, ski resorts and additional activities

The press conference on the current COVID-19 situation was attended by Minister of Education, Science and Sport Simona Kustec, Minister of Infrastructure Jernej Vrtovec and State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology Simon Zajc.

Minister of Education, Science and Sport Simona Kustec

Minister of Education, Science and Sport Simona Kustec | Author Anže Malovrh, STA

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On Wednesday, 4,813 PCR tests were performed, of which 1,166 or 24.2% were positive. Among the 6,787 rapid antigen tests performed, 279 or 4.1% were positive. In total, 11,599 coronavirus tests were performed, of which 1,455 were positive.

Pupils of the first cycle of primary school to return to school, kindergartens to open fully

On Tuesday, 26 January 2021, kindergartens, primary schools for the pupils of the first three grades and higher education institutions for emergency laboratory work will re-open in regions with a better epidemiological situation, according to Minister Kustec. These regions include: Gorenjska, Koroška, Obalno-kraška, Osrednjeslovenska, Podravska, Primorsko-notranjska, Zasavska, Pomurska and Savinjska.

Due to the continued poor epidemiological situation in other regions (Posavska, Goriška and Jugovzhodna Slovenija), kindergartens will provide only emergency childcare if so decided by the mayor of the municipality where the kindergarten operates, while distance learning will continue in schools. The decision on the start of classes and the full opening of kindergartens for the abovementioned regions will be announced at a COVID-related government session next Wednesday.

Distance learning in all regions will continue next week in the primary school grades four to nine, secondary schools, music schools and higher education institutions.

As an important additional element of the safe and responsible return to school, all employees will undergo rapid testing on Monday, 25 January, according to the rapid testing protocol prepared by the Ministry of Health. The rapid testing protocol with detailed information was submitted last night, as well as additional professional guidelines including support for the implementation of classes, which were drawn up for schools at the National Education Institute. According to the decision of the Ministry of Health, testing of teachers and preschool teachers is mandatory.

Classes for pupils in the first three grades will be based on the already known and tested Model C, based on which:

– classes take place in homogeneous groups;

– groups of pupils do not mix with each other in-between classes;

– schools are required to draw up detailed protocols for the implementation of the compulsory and extended school programme;

– no excursions, swimming courses, out-of-school classes and extracurricular activities organised by external providers are to take place;

– except in the first grade, voluntary elective subjects are taught remotely;

– activity days may be held for pupils only on school premises and subject to strict hygiene and other recommendations;

– pupils are required to remain in their home classrooms during breaks and, as a rule, not leave them (if possible, they should have their lunch in the classroom);

– physical education classes are to take place in the school gym without mixing groups of pupils from different classes;

– pupils in morning care or after-school classes are to be divided into groups so that the classes do not mix with one another. The school is required to keep accurate records thereof;

– the school is required to adapt the forms and methods of work for the pupils who are not allowed to attend classes on school premises due to health restrictions.

Return to kindergartens and schools must be safe and permanent, which is why Minister Kustec reiterated her call on institutions to follow the guidelines of the ministry responsible for health and the National Institute of Public Health for the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 infection. This means that, in accordance with the National Institute of Public Health recommendations, all employees are required to wear a face mask at all times at school, while students have to wear a face mask only outside their classroom or bubble. In addition, the premises must be regularly aired and disinfected, and strict hand washing and cough etiquette must be ensured.

This morning, all schools and kindergartens were called upon to report the needs for additional protective face masks, which will be provided in collaboration with the civil protection service, as is the established practice.

Ski resorts opening and additional activities

From Saturday onwards, ski lifts will be allowed to operate in the nine statistical regions where the epidemiological situation is better, with individual users required to undergo a rapid antigen test or submit confirmation of a negative COVID-19 test result. The decision was presented by Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec. The rapid test rule will not apply to professional athletes taking part in training. Ski resorts within an individual statistical region may only be used by residents of that region, since travel between regions is not permitted.

State Secretary Simon Zajc from the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology announced that the Government, having listened to the views and assessment of health experts and considered the current epidemiological situation, has extended the Ordinance on the temporary suspension of the sale of goods and services to consumers in the Republic of Slovenia. Alongside the existing exceptions covering essential needs, the new version of the Ordinance, which will be in force from Saturday, 23 January until Friday, 29 January, adds a number of new exceptions which, however, will only apply in those statistical regions where the epidemiological situation is more favourable.

The new exceptions apply to:

- movable stalls for the sale of agricultural produce and farm products,

- workshops in which repairs and maintenance of motor vehicles and bicycles are carried out (tyre workshops, car painting shops, body shops, bicycle repair shops),

- specialised shops selling products for children.