Turkish schools 'not ready' to open for classes on Sept 21, says Eğitim-Sen

Turkish schools are not ready to open, considering the lack of resources to prepare against the COVID-19 pandemic in the classrooms, an Eğitim-Sen representative said. Schools lack help staff and protective equipment, and safe distancing might be an issue, according to the expert.

Cihan Başakçıoğlu - DUVAR

The central government needs to assign additional resources to help schools prepare for the upcoming academic year due to start on Sept. 21, İzmir chairman for the Union of Education Workers (Eğitim-Sen), Veysel Beyazadam, said. Turkish schools are not yet ready for the first day of class, according to Beyazadam.

Veysel Beyazadam

There are already 11 schools where COVID-19 has been detected in the Aegean province of İzmir, Beyazadam said, adding that a safe middle ground needs to be found between the two extreme viewpoints of "we must open schools" and "let's not open schools until a vaccine is developed."

"The government, the ruling party needs to fulfill their responsibilities to implement precautions in schools," Beyazadam said.

Educators' main concern is about the help staff in schools, the chairman said, where they want Ankara to assign additional employees.

"There's a major gap in personnel that cleans schools and establishes hygiene. Schools could also use additional health staff."

Schools are also lacking supplies like disinfectant and thermometers, and instructors bring in their own masks, Beyazadam added, urging Ankara to supply masks for students as well.

Additionally, contract teachers must be placed on payroll, or at least allowed to work flexible hours, the chairman noted.

Meanwhile, the union thinks that the maximum number of students allowed in a classroom should be 12 to be able to maintain safe distances, Beyazadam said, which is a number below the country's average classroom size.

"All in all, we don't think that schools are ready."

Turkish union reveals 172 schools where COVID-19 detected ahead of school openingTurkish union reveals 172 schools where COVID-19 detected ahead of school opening