Iran's schools were reopened today, September 5, 2020, two weeks earlier than in previous years, while parents of students and school officials remain concerned about the spread of the coronavirus and the lack of a vaccine to control it.

Iran Press/commentary: Today, (Saturday, September 5, 2020) schools across Iran were reopened with a message from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. In previous years, schools were always opened at the beginning of autumn (September 22). Earlier, Iranian education officials issued circulars to schools regarding strict adherence to health protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

How schools around the world react against coronavirus?
Early this spring, school gates around the world slammed shut. By early April, an astonishing 1.5 billion young people were staying home as part of broader shutdowns to protect people from the novel coronavirus. The drastic measures worked in many places, dramatically slowing the spread of COVID-19.

However, as weeks turned into months, pediatricians and educators began to voice concern that school closures were doing more harm than good, especially as evidence mounted that children rarely develop severe symptoms from COVID-19.

Virtual education is often a pale shadow of the real thing and left many parents juggling jobs and childcare. Lower-income children who depend on school meals were going hungry. And there were hints that children were suffering increased abuse, now that school staff could no longer spot and report early signs of it. It was time, a growing chorus said, to bring children back to school.

By early June, more than 20 countries had done just that. Some others, including Taiwan, Nicaragua, and Sweden, never closed their schools. It was a vast, uncontrolled experiment.

Some schools imposed strict limits on contact between children, while others let them play freely. Some required masks, while others made them optional. Some closed temporarily if just one student was diagnosed with COVID-19; others stayed open even when multiple children or staff were affected, sending only ill people and direct contacts into quarantine.

Looking at reopening strategies from South Africa to Finland, some encouraging patterns emerged. Together, they suggest a combination of keeping student groups small and requiring masks and some social distancing helps keep schools and communities safe, and that younger children rarely spread the virus to one another or bring it home. But opening safely, experts agree, isn’t just about the adjustments a school makes. It’s also about how much virus is circulating in the community, which affects the likelihood that students and staff will bring COVID-19 into their classrooms.

As schools reopened, many embraced physical distancing for students to prevent viral spread. But although the strategy is effective, it is leaving more and more scientists, pediatricians, and parents deeply uncomfortable. They hunger for a compromise that protects communities from COVID-19 while supporting the mental health of young people.

From the start, some countries bet on strands of research suggesting young children are unlikely to spread the virus: schools in the Netherlands cut class sizes in half but didn’t enforce distancing among students under age 12 when they reopened in April. Other schools adopted a “pod” model as a compromise. Denmark, the first country in Europe to reopen schools, assigned children to small groups that could congregate at recess. It also found creative ways to give those groups as much space and fresh air as possible, even teaching classes in a graveyard. Some classes in Belgium met in churches to keep students spread out. Finland has kept normal class sizes but prevents classes from mixing with one another.

Many other countries began rethinking distancing in schools. The Canadian province of Quebec, which reopened many elementary schools in May with strict distancing, has announced fall plans that allow children to socialize freely in groups of six; each group must stay 1 meter away from other groups of students and 2 meters away from teachers. Although French preschoolers were photographed sitting inside their own recess squares in May, daycares there have now abandoned all distancing rules for children ages 5 and under. Older students are advised to stay at least 1 meter away from others while inside. But outside they can play freely with others in their class. The Netherlands recently announced that anyone under age 17 does not need to distance.

In China, South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam—where masks are already widely accepted and worn by many during flu season—schools require them for almost all students and their teachers. China allows students to remove masks only for lunch when children are separated by glass or plastic partitions.

Elsewhere, masks are less central. In some schools in Germany, students wear them in hallways or bathrooms but can remove them when seated at their (distantly spaced) desks. Austria reopened with this approach but abandoned masks for students a few weeks later when officials observed little spread within schools. In Canada, Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom, and Sweden, mask-wearing was optional for both students and staff.

Not all countries have the luxury of instituting a mask policy driven by science and comfort. Benin requires masks in public spaces, but because the cost can be prohibitive for families, schools do not turn maskless students away. Students in Ghana returned to school in May wearing masks—if they had them. South Africa, which faces a rising COVID-19 caseload, is racing to provide free masks to all students who need them.

When someone tests positive, Some schools have favored isolating only close contacts. In Germany, for example, classmates and teachers of an infected student are sent home for 2 weeks, but other classes continue. Until summer break, Quebec generally did the same; at least 53 students and teachers tested positive after many schools were reopened in May, according to news reports, but officials believed many of those infections were contracted in the community.

Elsewhere, officials are more cautious. Taiwan, which has largely suppressed the virus, kept schools open after one case but said it would close them for two or more, a situation it hasn’t yet faced.

Because children so rarely develop severe symptoms, experts have cautioned that open schools might pose a much greater risk to teachers, family members, and the wider community than to students themselves. Many teachers and other school staff are understandably nervous about returning to the classroom. In surveys of US school districts, as many as one-third of staff say they prefer to stay away.

Several teachers have died of COVID-19 complications in Sweden, where schools did not modify class sizes or make other substantive adjustments.

Early data from European countries suggest the risk to the wider community is small. At least when local infection rates are low, opening schools with some precautions does not seem to cause a significant jump in infections elsewhere.

It’s hard to be sure because, in most places, schools were reopened in concert with other aspects of public life. But in Denmark, nationwide case numbers continued to decline after daycare centers and elementary schools opened on 15 April, and middle and high schools followed in May. In the Netherlands, new cases stayed flat and then dropped after elementary schools opened part-time on 11 May and high schools were opened on 2 June. In Finland, Belgium, and Austria, too, officials say they found no evidence of increased spread of the novel coronavirus after schools reopened.

In much of the world, schools that closed in March remained closed through the summer break, and autumn will see a wave of reopenings. For millions of especially vulnerable children, however, the break may continue indefinitely. Many low-income countries lack the resources to shrink class sizes or provide everyone with masks and so are hesitant to reopen in the midst of a pandemic. In June, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said schools will likely stay shut until the danger of COVID-19 has passed. Similarly, officials in the Philippines said in-person schooling will not resume until there is a vaccine to protect against COVID-19.

In other places, ranging from Mexico to Afghanistan to the United States, planning for fall 2020 is underway.

The new school year starts in Iran amid coronavirus

In Iran, with the outbreak of the coronavirus, schools were closed from late winter 2020 until today, and student education and exams were held virtually.

Due to the continuing outbreak of Covid-19 at the beginning of the new school year and the need to take appropriate measures in three situations (white-yellow-red), Iran's Ministry of Education announced the procedure for reopening schools.

Based on the clauses of this method, determining students' access to each of the educational methods appropriate to each situation, continuous monitoring of the quality of students' communication and interaction with teachers, and continuous control of individual students' education with the methods mentioned in three situations, interaction and communication with families and students using face-to-face, distance and virtual opportunities, continuous disinfection of classrooms, toilets and the school environment is considered as a description of the duties of schools in the new school year.

Also, in the red situation, educational activities are done virtually in the "Shad System" (Social Network of Students) or using other appropriate methods on all days of the week. In this situation, the presence and absence of students and new students, presenting new lessons, evaluation, assignments, and other activities related to the teaching and learning process continue in "Shad System".

But like many other countries, there is opposition to the reopening of schools in Iran amid the outbreak of the Coronavirus. Many parents and school officials are concerned that due to the lack of proper educational facilities in some regions of Iran, as well as a large number of students in a class in some areas and other problems, full observance of health protocols is practically impossible.


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