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Minister Kustec: Today is one happy day

Attending today’s press conference on the latest situation regarding COVID-19 were the Minister of Education, Science and Sport Simona Kustec, Gregor Pečan, president of the Association of Head Teachers and psychologist Andreja Poljanec.

Minister Simona Kustec

Minister Simona Kustec | Author Daniel Novaković, STA

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Yesterday, of the 4,700 PCR tests performed, 1,149 or 24.4% were positive. Among the 30,392 rapid antigen tests performed, 503 infections were detected (1.7%). A total of 1,157 patients were hospitalised yesterday (1,173 the previous day), of whom 192 are in intensive care, the same number as the day before. A total of 27 patients died, 25 in hospitals and 2 in nursing homes. The average number of confirmed cases nationwide over the last seven days was 1,227, with 1,225 the day before.

Yesterday’s new positive cases were concentrated in the following municipalities: Ajdovščina 24, Nova Gorica 27, Koper 85, Tolmin 20, Krško 34, Brežice 29, Sevnica 22, Zagorje ob Savi 23, Novo mesto 30, Črnomelj 22, Celje 45, Šentjur 22, Šmarje pri Jelšah 29, Žalec 33, Domžale 29, Kranj 51, Škofja Loka 28, Ljubljana 137 and Maribor 75.

According to yesterday’s figures, the following seven regions were red: Osrednjeslovenska, Podravska, Savinjska, Gorenjska, Pomurska, Primorsko-notranjska and Koroška. Among these a negative trend was observed in the Savinjska and Gorenjska regions. Yesterday’s figures show that 5 regions are listed as black, but a positive trend was noticed in the Posavska, Zasavska and Southeast Slovenia regions, while conditions are getting worse in the Goriška and Obalno-kraška regions.

Testing and first day of school a great success

Today a total of 366 schools and 327 kindergartens reopened. This involved a return to work for 12,822 primary school staff and 12,844 kindergarten staff. Meanwhile a total of 53,306 first-triad primary school pupils returned to the classroom and around 74,630 children returned to kindergartens. At the same time, starting today laboratory practical work for students of post-secondary and university institutions can once again be conducted in nine statistical regions.

Testing showed a positivity rate of 1.3 percent among teachers and educators (278 persons), while 13 percent have already recovered from COVID, so they did not need to be tested, and they are counted among those who returned to school today. According to Minister Kustec, the Ministry favours the testing of children, but a final decision on this will be made by the Ministry of Health.

In Mr Pečan’s opinion the testing has revealed a high degree of social responsibility, with a large number of teachers and educators getting tested. Also encouraging is the low percentage of positive tests, which is evidence that the virus is not widespread in schools and kindergartens, so they are also not focal points for viral spread outside school and kindergarten premises.

The testing experience has been very positive, including in organisational terms, so it is realistic for testing to be repeated each week and for it to be conducted outside lesson hours.

Legal experts are of the opinion that those teachers who did not wish to be tested could be penalised, since the decision of the Ministry of Health is quite clear. The circular from the Ministry of Education lists several possible sanctions, including a fine of 400 to 4,000 euros, although Mr Pečan is not entirely convinced that this could be applied in the case of teachers and educators.

One issue of concern is how to assign work to teachers who have not been tested and cannot teach. The option of schools rotating after-school class teachers from the 4th or 5th grades with those from the first triad does not seem the most ethical solution to Mr Pečan. Also instructing teachers to wait for work at home is not ideal, since it represents an expense for the school. Mr Pečan anticipates that in practice a solution will be created that schools can then use.

 Children need a relaxed family atmosphere

In the opinion of psychologist Andreja Poljanec, children are being increasingly deprived of many joys and the diverse rhythm of childhood and adolescence, which means they are becoming more restless and fed up. For this reason they are more frequently cranky and uninterested in any serious work. All this engenders in adults worry, uncertainty, anger and even a sense of impotence, especially due to the fact that certain age groups of children will probably continue to remain at home. 

Parents should try to do everything to be as relaxed and content as possible, so the family can be a space of healthy and full mutual development. In these special circumstances children and adolescents need more tenderness, happy time together, sports, understanding from parents and not scrutiny, while adolescents need a strong emotional spark and healthy dynamic to feel good in the family.

For children and adolescents the more challenging factor is not missing out on intensive learning but the prospect of missing genuine family relations and the experience of parents finding their way under stress. This is indeed a fundamental need for full cognitive development, concluded Ms Poljanec.