Turkey's shuts schools, universities over coronavirus

Turkey on March 12 announced a series of new measures against the coronavirus threat. Primary and secondary schools will be closed for one week and universities for three weeks from March 16, whereas sports events will be played without spectators until the end of April, Presidential Spokesperson Kalın announced. President Erdoğan has also postponed his foreign visits, Kalın said.

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Turkey's Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın has said that primary and secondary schools will be suspended as of March 16 for one week, whereas universities will be closed for three weeks amid coronavirus threat.

With this move, the one week-long midterm break for primary and secondary schools, which was originally scheduled to take place between April 6-10, has been "moved to an earlier time," Kalın said.

Once the one week-long break is over, on March 23, schools will shift to remote learning for one week, Kalın said during a press meeting in the capital Ankara on March 12. Kalın's comments came following a meeting of ministers at the presidential palace.

"As of March 23, our students will continue their education via remote education methods, via internet and television channels. Our Education Ministry has undertaken an extensive work regarding this issue. And our Education Ministry and our minister will share the relevant information with the public regarding this," Kalın said.

Turkey confirmed its first coronavirus infection early on March 11, becoming the last major economy to report an outbreak after taking what the World Health Organization (WHO) described as "vigilant, cautious" measures.

Kalın said that the patient who tested positive was in a good condition and that there was also no problem with the patient's family members who had been quarantined.

Kalın also said that all sports events will be played without spectators until the end of April.

Kalın further said that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's international travel planes have been "postponed" for an unspecified period of time.

As for civil servants, they will be banned from going abroad unless an "extraordinary situation" arises, Kalın said. "A presidential decree has been prepared regarding the foreign visits of civil servants. It will be signed by our President today," he said.

Administrative, academic staff at universities 'not to be given vacation leave'

Following Kalın's remarks, Turkey's Council of Higher Education (YÖK) released a statement saying that the administrative and academic personnel at universities will continue their works and will not be given vacation leave.

“There will be no vacation for the administrative and academic personnel at universities. Depending on the progress of coronavirus in Turkey, this issue will be re-evaluated later,” said the statement.

The YÖK also said that there will not be a transition to distance learning during the three-week-long period of March 16-April 5.