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School year begins in Poland, classes to be stationary

On Wednesday, September 1, some 4.6 million students will start the school year in 20,000 schools. The bell will sound for the first time for 381,000 new pupils starting education in primary schools. A total of 644,500 teachers work in Polish schools. They admit that it will be a year full of challenges, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Education Ministry has provided many guidelines to ensure the safety of pupils and teachers. One recommendation is to keep a minimum distance of 1.5 metres between people at school.

“Such a recommendation cannot be met. Schools are crowded, especially in sensitive places, for example in toilets,” Marek Pleśniar from the Polish Association of Educational Management Staff (OSKKO) told the Polish Press Agency (PAP).

The guidelines also apply in common rooms and canteens where the distance requirement is hard to fulfill. The recommendation is to wear a mask in such areas. Parents should provide their children with masks. If not, they will also be available in schools.

The Education and Science Minister, Przemysław Czarnek, has repeatedly emphasised in recent days that from September 1, 2021, all pupils will study at school on a pre-pandemic basis. He stressed that the students needed it for their development.

“The teaching process includes not only the transfer of knowledge and acquiring it, but also educating and satisfying needs, including socialising with other people or being in a social group,” psychologist Dr. Marta Znajmiecka from the University of Łódź Institute of Psychology said.

She also pointed to the reduced effectiveness of distance learning. “It will drop drastically, these people will have deficits that they will have to make up somewhere, for example in the form of tutoring. It will come out over time,” the psychologist emphasised in an interview with PAP in March, when schools switched to remote learning.

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