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Families, activists seek 'safer' return to school, say school-related public health measures' hard to apply'

By Rana Husseini - Jan 18,2021 - Last updated at Jan 19,2021

AMMAN — Families and activists on Monday criticised the recent announced government protocols to allow students to return to school and kindergarten, saying it was inconsistent and hard to apply.

The National Campaign for the Return to Schools said in a statement that “the health protocols and conditions imposed by the Education Ministry are impossible to apply and are not in harmony with recent Royal directives”.

The National Campaign to Reopen Kindergartens (NCRK) also issued a statement that expressed similar reservations and concerns.

On Tuesday, His Majesty King Abdullah directed the government to reopen schools and various sectors in a systematic manner that safeguards public health and the national economy.

While chairing a National Policies Council meeting, attended by HRH Crown Prince Hussein, the King stressed that public health has been the top priority since the outbreak of the pandemic, noting recent improvements in the epidemiological situation.

One day following the King's comments, Prime Minister Bisher Al Khasawneh announced, during his address to the deputies ahead of the vote of confidence session, the gradual return of students to their schools starting this coming second semester.

Both campaigns praised the Royal directives to reopen schools and other educational and economic sectors in a studied manner that would protect citizens and the national economy.

“We really appreciate His Majesty's directives for the government to open schools, but we were disappointed with the government’s conditions and we think that the protocols imposed by the education ministry are not doable on the ground,” said active campaign member Nadine Nimri.

She told The Jordan Times that the conditions, especially the two-metre distance between students, are hard to apply since education needs to be conducted in an interactive manner among pupils.

 Therefore, Nimri added, we will suggest protocols based on international experiences and standards from all over the world.

“We will recommend that protocols be doable for schools and kindergartens in Jordan,” Nimri said.

Meanwhile, NCRK Coordinator Dima Qaisi told The Jordan Times that there are 3,000 kindergartens in Jordan that employees around 20,000.

“We have contacted several deputies who promised to adopt our demand to reopen this vital sector,” Qaisi said.

Qaisi added that pupils at kindergarten need extra care and attention and it is impossible to provide them “with the appropriate educational methods if this sector remains closed”. 

“This sector has been closed almost since March 2020 and our demand to reopen it is in vain,” Qaisi said.

Both campaigns have been calling on the government to take a “decisive and immediate decision” to reopen schools, nurseries and kindergartens and to allow parents to choose between in-class education and distance learning method that has been applied since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Campaign organisers warned of the economic repercussions of the pandemic on parents, students and business owners. 

Meanwhile, Rania Obeidat wrote on Facebook: “The new protocol [that was introduced by the health ministry] is basically asking students to continue online learning.”

Ohood Mohsen added: “We want our children to be back to schools because we are not willing to produce an ignorant generation.”

 

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