Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer stated that none of the 71 thousand 320 schools were closed due to the incident, but that there were closed classes, and that the process was managed "class-based" and "case-based".
Minister of National Education Mahmut Özer answered the questions in the statements regarding the education agenda on NTV live broadcast. When asked about the evaluation, stating that 2 weeks have passed since the start of face-to-face training, Özer reminded that adaptation training started on 1 September and normal training at all levels started on 6 September. Emphasizing that they fully coordinate the process with the Ministry of Health, Özer said that they have taken all necessary precautions in all schools.
Noting that all the necessary guides were prepared and sent to the governorships of 81 provinces, Özer continued: “We have met the needs of all our schools by the end of the year. At the same time, we sent all the appropriations that our schools need regarding cleaning and hygiene, not only for the month of September, but all the appropriations they need until the end of 2021. We were not satisfied with that. There are 71 thousand permanent cleaning personnel in our schools. In addition, we recruited 50 thousand cleaning personnel within the scope of the Community Benefit Work Program of our Ministry of Labor. We were not satisfied with this, we established the Electronic Tracking System in our schools. This is being done for the first time. You know, while we were making provincial and district-based decisions, now we are making school-based decisions. Therefore, there is a system where all detailed information such as vaccination status in each school, people who need PCR, classes that interrupt face-to-face education due to a case or close contact, and can receive instant information from the Ministry of Health. We have made this system available to all our schools. Currently, we have 57 schools in our system, 108 of which are state schools. We teach in 71 thousand classrooms. We can follow the information in all 320 thousand classrooms from there.”
Stating that they established a call center where questions are answered within the framework determined by the Ministry of Health, Özer said that they also formed an advisory board consisting of scientists. Noting that the board held its first meeting today, Özer said, “They are also an advisory board where we discuss our suggestions for a more healthy process in schools, a detailed education system, and develop different approaches. It is not an alternative to the Health Science Board. In this committee, we discuss all the decisions or alternatives that we have matured, we forward them to the Ministry of Health, and the final decisions are made by the Ministry of Health Science Committee.” he said.
No Schools Closed Due to the Case
Stating that none of the 71 thousand 320 schools were closed due to the incident, but there were classes that were closed, Minister Özer stated that the process was managed "class-based" and "case-based" and said: "If there are 2 positive cases in any classroom, except for pre-school, there are 14 positive cases. If there is, we take a break from education for XNUMX days in the classroom, but we do not leave our students to their own devices. At the same time, they continue to conduct classes live on digital platforms.”
Minister Özer, repeating that the classes were not closed until the end of the term because they were quarantined, stated that these students and teachers returned to their classes, face-to-face education, 14 days later.
Minister Özer continued as follows: “At the same time, we follow the number of cases announced by our Ministry of Health every day. If the trend is increasing, this increase is definitely reflected in our classes. Because schools are not isolated environments, they are isolated only in classroom environments, but we have these children, 18 million students, 1,2 million teachers, over 100 thousand administrative staff, 150 thousand working only in the services. A crowd of 20 million. After education and training, this mass moves out of school. The number of closed classes is quite natural because the number of cases in the society is increasing. There is no scientific data based on the assumption that the number of closed classrooms is increasing because schools do not take adequate precautions.”
Noting that the vaccination rate of teachers is increasing day by day, Özer said: “It is increasing not only in our teachers but also in our other employees. Vaccination is done on a voluntary basis. Only if we have not been vaccinated additionally, we have required our employees to have PCR done twice a week, and the process is going very well. On August 6, when I took office, the rate of teachers who had received 1 dose of vaccination was 73 percent. As of September 17, when we arrived, the rate of teachers who received 1 dose of vaccine is 92 percent, and the average in Turkey is 83 percent.” Stating that this rate is above Turkey's average, Özer said, “On the other hand, the number of teachers who received 2 doses of vaccination was 6 percent on 59 August. As of September 17, this has reached 80 percent. I would like to thank our teachers here.” made its assessment.
Minister Özer, on the question of whether there was a teacher who was positive as a result of PCR tests, said, “There is. In fact, this showed how correct the measure was. There were cases that showed no symptoms, were not vaccinated, but were positive when PCR was performed. If we hadn't had PCR done, those teachers would have gone to school. When we comply with the rules, we will be in an advantageous position in terms of keeping our schools open face-to-face, which is the most sterile and safest environment. Our case-based, classroom-based approach will provide a significant advantage in keeping schools open face-to-face until the end of the term and hopefully in the next term.” he replied.
When asked about how many schools started dual education due to the epidemic, Minister Özer said that there are crowded classes in 850 thousand schools, and that the most important reason for this is places where there is no land for school construction. In addition, Özer stated that due to the earthquake strengthening, bilateral training continued in some places, but this situation was not common and was held in some places in the local area. Özer said, “Approximately 200 schools in Turkey have switched to dual education just because of this measure, this is not a common situation.” he said.
“We Bring a Suggestion to the Ministry of Health”
Referring to the news about weekend trainings, Özer stated that they do not have a systematic approach to providing training on weekends and that they are trying to produce solutions specific to problem-based schools.
Minister Özer stated that if there are two incidents in a classroom, they take a 14-day break from face-to-face education in that classroom and those students continue their education at home via digital platforms and continued as follows: “We made a proposal to the Ministry of Health. Other students in the class are being recorded as close contacts but show no symptoms. If, after one week, the student's parent allows him to have a PCR, and the PCR result is negative, he should return to the classroom a week later. If his parents do not allow him to have a PCR, let's complete the 14-day quarantine process. Our Minister of Health also approached positively that this could be a viable thing. They will also evaluate it at the Scientific Committee next week. When such a thing happens, the interval for the interrupted classes to return to face-to-face education will be narrowed, so a much more sustainable approach will be put forward.”
PCR Screening in Schools
Regarding whether random PCR screening in schools will be a routine practice that will continue throughout the school year, Özer said that this is an approach that the Ministry of Health will implement with the Ministry of National Education in order to control the situation in schools on samples.
Stating that this would relieve the society about the health measures in schools, Özer continued: “The first point that PCR test will not be applied to any student without the consent of their parents is that. The second point is that we talked to our Minister of Health, our children will not receive nasal PCR, but salivary PCR test will be done. Therefore, it will be a much easier, viable PCR approach. This will strengthen our hand. Because, apart from the routine measure, if there is any case that we could not detect at different times in between, it will take precautions, suspend face-to-face education in those classes, and bring an additional control mechanism to return to the education system in 14 days or a week if the Ministry of Health approves.
Stating that the places they will focus on here are hostels rather than schools, Özer said that they will do PCR for hostels at certain intervals and with the consent of the parents, so that they will have the opportunity to manage the process in a more controlled manner.
Authorizations of Provincial Directorates of National Education
Answering the question of whether the powers granted to provincial national education directorates will increase or not, Özer said that provincial national education directorates can take decisions locally in coordination with the governorships regarding crowded classrooms, but this is not an eternal authority.
Özer stated that the Ministry of National Education would be involved in this process and would take a decision with the Scientific Committee when decisions were made on the basis of provinces and districts. is fully authorized to reduce the number of days.” said.
Emphasizing that the healthier progress of the face-to-face education process is not only the duty of the Ministry, Özer stated that all parents should actively participate in this process. Stating that the virus spreads not only in schools but in every environment where people come together, Özer asked parents to follow the rules set by the Ministry of Health for the continuity of children's right to education.
National Education Council
When asked about what will be on the agenda of the 1th National Education Council to be held in Ankara on 3-20 December, Özer said that the main theme of the council was "equality of opportunity in education".
Özer stated that this theme will have three sub-titles and these are the subjects that they will focus on the most as the Ministry. He explained the subject headings as "Basic Education for Equal Opportunity in Education", "Vocational Education" and "Professional Development of Teachers".
Stating that as the Ministry, they will share important packages related to basic education and access to education in disadvantaged regions with the public in the coming days, Özer said, “Vocational education has already gained momentum, we will make different arrangements regarding it. The teacher is already our most critical point. We will constantly support our teachers throughout this process.” said.