Brno, Czech Republic – With the summer coming to an end and the start of the school year approaching, governments across Europe are debating various ways to ensure a safe return to school for pupils and students.
Czech schools gear up for mass testing campaign
The Czech government unveiled earlier this week its back-to-school strategy, involving a mass testing campaign for the unvaccinated and additional health guidelines for schools.
All primary and secondary school students who are not fully vaccinated will have to get tested three times (on September 1, September 6 and September 9) at the start of the year.
Pupils who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 in the past 180 days will also be exempted from getting tested.
Students who refuse to get tested and are unable to prove their Covid status will face additional restrictions, including the obligation to wear face masks throughout the day and the inability to attend indoor sports classes or singing lessons.
“If a child refuses to be tested, he or she will have to wear a respirator from the age of 15, both in the school building and outdoors, if it is not possible to keep a distance of 1.5 meters from other pupils,” Education Minister Robert Plaga said.
Schools can opt for more reliable PCR tests
Teachers and school staff will also be required to get tested for the coronavirus.
Face masks will only be required in the common areas, but not in classrooms, according to the Education Ministry.
Most pupils of Czech primary and secondary schools have switched to online classes for the better part of the past year.
Local authorities will start distributing millions of antigen tests next week to schools, who can also receive a state subsidy of 200 Kc per kit if they wish to acquire PCR tests instead.
About 200 establishments (less than 4 percent of primary and secondary schools) have applied for the scheme, according to an Education Ministy spokeswoman.
Students tested with PCR tests will only need to get tested twice at the start of the school year, compared to three times for those using antigen kits.