Romania wants to reopen schools after 3-month closure - president

15 Jan 2021 / 00:40 H.

    BUCHAREST, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Romanian schools will reopen next month after a three-month closure of in-person classes if current coronavirus infection rates do not worsen significantly, President Klaus Iohannis said on Thursday.

    Authorities imposed a nationwide nighttime curfew and closed all schools in November to fight a rise in daily coronavirus infection rates to about 10,000.

    Romania has some of the European Union's least developed healthcare infrastructure and has had of the highest fatality rates in the bloc's eastern wing since the virus was first detected in February 2020.

    "From February 8, when the second semester begins, most schools will reopen, given that the pandemic evolves approximately the same as in recent weeks," Iohannis said.

    Those cities with infection rates exceeding 6 per thousand inhabitants over a two-week horizon will still need to resort exclusively to online tuition. Romania has about 2.8 million students.

    Romanian schools stayed basically shut for most of last year, with a brief, two-month reopening in September-October. Surveys showed that a majority of students, teachers and parents saw the quality of education dropping last year from 2019.

    About 3,500 new cases were confirmed in the space of the last 24 hours, raising the total number of infections to 685,000 of whom 615,000 recovered.

    More than 17,000 people have died since the beginning of the outbreak in a country of 20 million people. (Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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