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Gov’t announcement on remote learning draws mixed reactions

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Sep 15,2020 - Last updated at Sep 15,2020

AMMAN — The government’s announcement regarding the suspension of in-class education in public and private schools for two weeks stirred mixed reactions on social media between supporters who are afraid the virus will infect their children and backlash from those who seem more concerned about their children’s education.

“The government has finally acted with wisdom because school students are among the most vulnerable segment to get infected, especially because there is no physical distancing or commitment to health instructions,” Imtiyaz Khather wrote on Facebook.

“I find it strange that some people are sad about this decision and more willing to endanger the lives of their children… and I hope the decision will be enforced sooner than Thursday, because the very thought of a child isolated from his family is scary,” she added.

As the decision excluded Tawjihi students and students from the first to the third grade, Esraa Zaqout commented: “Why are the first three grades and Tawjihi excluded from the decision? Are they not to be afraid about them as well?”

Waed Mohammad replied: “The first grades are important to build a foundation for students, without which they would be lost, while the rest can be handled online. I am only speculating, but I expected this is what the ministry has in mind.”

Education Minister Tayseer Nuaimi said that all public, private, UNRWA and military schools and kindergartens will be closed for two weeks as of Thursday noting that the decision gives families who have children in the first three grades the option to send their children to schools or to resort to remote education.

During the press meeting, Nuaimi said that 75 students, 47 teachers, two employees at an education directorate and other six employees have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, noting all of the confirmed cases contracted the virus from coronavirus positive individuals.

Nuaimi said that there is no intention to extend the 14-day period, but Amani Ka wrote: “Well before schools started, he said that attendance will be in schools, which will not be closed, but here we are, schools closing down and it seems our children will lose this year.”

Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh reiterated on his Twitter account that education will continue in schools after the two-week period starting Thursday, noting that the measure aims at protecting students until the situation is analysed.

Mohammed Saidi wrote: “You reassured us and had us pay to private schools and then started talking about online education, this is such a farce to support private schools and their owners.”

"The fear of going back to remote education has led parents to seek public schools instead of private schools," President of the Private Schools Owners' Association Monther Al Sourani told The Jordan Times at the end of August, before schools started on September 1.

At the time, he said that many parents cancelled their children’s enrolment while parents complained about the high costs and the fact that they were not reimbursed for at-school services they paid for when in the past semester education turned online.

Ever since then many people have been accusing the government of reassuring the people that education will be in schools to ensure they pay private schools and buy stationery and clothing only to be met with a decision to return to online education once again.

However, since the beginning of September, as coronavirus cases spiked, many schools that registered infections among teachers and students have shut down and are continuing the process using distance learning, a measure the Education Ministry has taken to protect the lives of students and curb the spread of the virus.

The government makes its decisions in line with the country’s epidemiological situation, which caused confusion among people as Nuaimi announced that education would not be online and then suspended attendance in schools for 14 days, with fears of an extension due to the rise in coronavirus cases.

“The increase of infections should naturally lead to the closing of schools as many families have been asking for returning to remote education, and hopefully in two weeks, we will hear some good news,” commented Safa’a Alhmaidi.

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