Jordan: Schools Open on Time Under Strict Health Protocols

Published August 26th, 2020 - 10:29 GMT
(Shutterstock/ File Photo)
(Shutterstock/ File Photo)
The minister urged students’ parents to “refrain from sending their children to school if they notice that they have fever or cold symptoms”.

The government on Wednesday announced that the 2020/2021 academic year for all educational institutes in the Kingdom will commence on time under strict health protocols to ensure the safety of the students and school employees alike.

Speaking during a press conference at the Prime Ministry, Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh said the government took the decision to resume the new academic year after careful examination and consultation with the relevant officials.

“We have sensed over the past few weeks the worries and concerns of students, parents and school owners regarding the fate of the academic year and whether the students will remain at home taking online classes or if they will physically attend their classes,” Adaileh said.

The minister added: “I would like to assure everyone that the new academic year will commence on its time under strict health protocols that guarantee the safety of the students and the teachers.”

In March, following the COVID-19 outbreak in the Kingdom, the government issued defence orders ordering a nationwide shutdown and education establishments were instructed to offer online classes.

The coronavirus was contained for several months. However, the recent surge in the number of virus cases has prompted education and health officials to reassess the situation related to the reopening of schools.

Minister of Education Tayseer Nueimi also addressed the press conference to discuss the “different scenarios the government had put in place to deal with the COVID-19 developments and its effects on the education process”.

“We realise that returning to classrooms might entail certain health hazards for everyone, but we have prepared ourselves for over two months and worked on a special health protocols and trained the teachers to deal with the new situation,” Nueimi told reporters.

The education minister added that the first week of school will be tailored to “instructing the students on ways to deal with the new situation and to introduce to them the health protocol”.

“The schools were instructed to ensure at least one-metre distance between students in the classrooms and to shorten the class and break periods,” Nueimi added.

If schools are unable to meet the one-metre distance between students, the alternative would be to resort to mixed education whereby students will attend classes on certain days and the other batch will resort to online learning, according to Nueimi.

The minister urged students’ parents to “refrain from sending their children to school if they notice that they have fever or cold symptoms”.

Nueimi added that to ensure more health safety, the ministry instructed all schools to halt its extra-curriculum and sports activities and to close school canteens.

In the event of a total lockdown in a certain district or area “then classes will be halted,” he added.

“If a case of COVID-19 is discovered in a school, then the entire establishment will be closed and the students, teachers and everyone working in the school will be instructed to be quarantined at their homes where they will receive online education,” Nueimi explained.

The education minister added that the ministry has provided a link for students who are stranded abroad to use it to register for the new academic school year and that “3,000 have already registered since it was launched almost a month ago”.

Both Adaileh and Nueimi brushed aside what they said were “rumours that the government intends to commence the education year for one month to ensure that families pay the fees and then will switch to online learning” saying it was baseless.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Muhyiddine Touq announced that education at the private and public colleges and universities will commence as scheduled.

“The students will attend classes online, but the ones who are enrolled in the medical and dental colleges and their education entails the use of labs will attend classes on campus,” Touq said.

He added that the educational institutions' administration and deans have the ultimate decision to resume education using hybrid education or online courses”.

Hybrid learning, according to educators is a combination of traditional classroom experiences, and online courses whereby the students will attend classes every two days then one day at home then two days at school or the other way around.

Also speaking during the press conference was Minister of Labour Nidal Bataineh who announced that 42 entities and establishments have reached settlement deals with the Tax Department after submitting requests to the Settlement and Reconciliation Committee that examine such demands.

“The Cabinet has approved the committee’s recommendations to accept the tax settlement agreements with 42 individuals and establishments,” Bataineh told reporters.

Turning to  areas under lockdown in Jordan, most recently Sahab district, Bataineh said that employees working outside Sahab “will not be allowed to leave, and individuals living outside the district cannot enter to go to work”.

As a result, the labour minister read during the press conference Ciruclar No. 9 that is issued under Defence Order No. 6 to regulate the working time and wages of workers in the private sector who reside in isolated  areas and work outside these areas, or ones who live outside the isolated areas and work inside them, during the isolation period, “as part of the implemented plans to combat and limit the spread of the COVID-19”.

The minister pointed out that from the date of the decision to isolate any geographical area and until the decision to lift the lockdown, “the employer may reduce not more than 50 per cent of the monthly wage of the workers”.

“The deduction should not be less than the minimum wage of 220 dinars. The employer cannot assign the worker any work in the workplace, but he can assign the employee to work remotely according to Defence Order 6,” Bataineh said.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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