Schools, kindergartens in Slovenia to be closed as of Monday

Ljubljana, 12 March - All educational institutions in Slovenia will be closed on Monday. Outgoing Prime Minister Marjan Šarec announced on Thursday he had tasked the health and education ministries with making all the necessary preparations in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.

A class room.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

"It's a measure that will have many consequences but it is a must in this situation," Šarec said on Twitter.

Ministry of Education data show over 260,000 children and youngsters will have to stay home.

Outgoing Labour Minister Ksenija Klampfer said those who would be forced to stay at home to look after their children would receive compensation in the amount of 50% of pay.

Tomorrow, only child care will be organised at schools, so children are advised to stay at home if possible, Education Minister Jernej Pikalo said.

He added that options were being discussed for long-distance learning with public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, internet provider for public institutions Arnes and other stakeholders.

Outgoing Health Minister Aleš Šabeder warned that the measure would also affect the healthcare system, as many medical workers who have children will have to stay at home. He said measures to reorganise work at health institutions were already in the making.

Since the virus has spread to all of Slovenia's regions and the number of infected persons is rising, the country will declare an epidemic today.

Two schools where infections have been confirmed are already closed.

The first to close was the Fran Albreht Primary School in Kamnik on Wednesday, where a teacher had tested positive for the virus.

Two cases were also confirmed at the Šmarje pri Jelšah primary school, which is closed as of today.

Several European countries have opted for school and kindergarten closures to prevent the spreading of the new virus, including Austria as on next week and partly Croatia.

In Italy, which is the European coronavirus hotspot, schools have been closed since 5 March.

University lectures at the University of Primorska were cancelled for the next two weeks on Sunday, while the University of Ljubljana cancelled them on Wednesday until further notice.

At the University of Maribor only lectures with less than 100 people are allowed, while some faculties have opted for distance learning.

The government introduced several protective measures in the last few days to contain the virus, which has so far infected at least 82 people in Slovenia. Indoor events with more than 100 visitors are banned and health checks have been put in place on the border with Italy. The checking of passengers at Ljubljana airport is to start in the coming days.

© STA, 2020