A Ministry of Education and Science working group is set to meet with the Commission for Infectious Diseases next week to discuss the final draft of COVID-19 protocols for the upcoming school year.

Deputy Education Minister Elizabeta Naumovska told MIA that the working group will get together over the long weekend to finalize the details of documents set to be presented to members of the Infectious Diseases Commission.

The final draft will then be discussed by the government, probably at its first session after the holiday and will hopefully be adopted and forwarded to schools by next Friday. On August 10, protocols will be presented to the public.

Municipal crisis HQs are to decide which of our proposed models will be used where and when, in line with the epidemiological situation. Our position is to organize in-person classes, in line with protective measures. It all depends on the number of [COVID-19] cases in the area. Organizing in-person classes won’t pose an issue in rural areas with small number of students. In-person classes are key for elementary school students, especially first to third graders, who can’t be taught how to read and write online. Socialization is also crucial at this age, Naumovska told MIA.

Those municipalities that opt for remote teaching will be able to shift to a different model once the threat of the virus diminishes.

Rotating classes are also a possibility, with a group of students going to school and another attending classes online. They would rotate every two weeks.

This model is most suitable for schools based in bigger cities, where class sizes reach 34 students. Municipalities, Naumovska noted, are to provide for such schools additional space.

Regardless of the model, classes will be shortened. Schools that will conduct remote teaching are to pick a learning platform, while teachers will hold online classes from the school.

Once protocols are adopted, Naumovska added, principals will have a week to draft a plan for their school in line with Education Ministry guidelines.

Each model will ensure students’ safety if protective measures and protocols are properly observed, the Deputy Education Minister said.