School holidays extended for younger pupils in Latvia

The Education Ministry has indicated that as of January 25, some pupils will return to school, said Education Minister Ilga Šuplinska at a press conference January 6.

According to the Minister, epidemiologists say that the infection rate is still too high to organize on-site learning. Therefore, school holidays for grades 1 to 4 will be extended until January 25. 

Other pupils will learn remotely, including grades 5 and 6, who will start learning on Monday, January 11. 

It is hoped that after January 25, pupils from grades 1 to 4, as well as 9 and 12 could return to school. Masks will have to be worn by all pupils.

State exams shall take place on-site. If the epidemiological situation is not favorable, exams will be cancelled.

Health Ministry's chief infectologist Uga Dumpis said that it has been internationally proved that opening schools is an additional risk for infection. The older the children are, the more likely it is that they will infect others and get ill themselves. Younger pupils are more likely to get infected by the teacher. 

"My opinion is, if we want active learning at schools, the cumulative incidence rate must drop below 200," said Dumpis. Last week the cumulative rate in Latvia was 581.42, according to European Center for Disease Control.

"The safety of schools depends on how the society will behave in the next two weeks," said Dumpis.

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