Duvar English

Turkey’s Union of Education Workers (Eğitim-Sen) has urged the government to suspend schools across the country amid the coronavirus threat.

The union said that the Education Ministry’s recent move to start disinfecting schools was not a sufficient step and that students or teachers should not be let in the school buildings until the “disinfection process is completed.”

“The Education Ministry should complete the disinfection process in coordination with the Health Ministry within the shortest time; and following the completion of the hygiene- and disinfection-related processes, depending on the epidemic’s situation at the time, authorities should decide whether the education should resume or not,” Eğitim-Sen said.

“It is not sufficient that the Education Ministry has announced that an extensive disinfection process will be initiated and all areas [of school premises] will be disinfected on the weekends and outside school times,” said the union, adding that continuity of education increases the risk of the spread of the virus.

“As long as the possibility of [the virus] risking the lives of the teachers and students persists, the continuity of education means 18 million students and over 1 million teachers will be the epidemic’s potential targets,” said the union.

The union’s statement came after officials early on March 11 announced the first confirmed coronavirus case in the country. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca has refrained from sharing the patient’s details with the public, but said that the patient is a male Turkish citizen who contracted the virus while he was in Europe.

Turkey has since then been in an alarm state. Koca said during a press conference on March 11 that the suspension of schools was currently not on the government’s agenda, but could be considered if the “need arises.” He had said a day earlier that he would meet with Education Minister Ziya Selçuk in the upcoming coming days and discuss temporally closing schools across the country.