By Artemis Razmipour
Tehran, Sep 5 (efe-epa).- Iran’s schools reopened on Saturday after being closed for seven months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Classes resumed across the country, combining face-to-face and online teaching.
Iran was one of the earliest countries to be gripped by the Covid-19 outbreak, which has caused more than 22,000 deaths and 380,000 infections in the nation.
In-person classes restarted in 62 percent of the country’s 116,000 schools, those with fewer than 100 students and where social distancing can be observed, according to the education ministry.
Schools with more than 100 students have deployed a combination of remote and face-to-face learning, which each group of students follows on certain days.
Iran’s education minister Mohsen Haji-Mirzaei said classrooms are not the same as in previous years, with remote teaching for overcrowded schools or any students with symptoms.
Face-to-face classes have been reduced to 35 minutes and online ones are mainly carried out through a state television channel and educational social network called Shad.
Haji-Mirzaei said the system is “an unknown path” and asked for more participation and support from students’ families.
“In schools, the health of the children will be taken care of in the best way possible,” he added.
“We are constantly monitoring the situation and will make new decisions when necessary.”
Pupils at Bamdad Parsi private school for girls in Tehran were seen arriving on Saturday in their uniforms and masks.
They passed through a disinfection tunnel and sat outside on benches placed at a safe distance from each other to attend an opening assembly.
Principal Tuba Fathi told Efe that 50 percent of pupils in the junior school are physically attending and the other half are learning online.
She said that in many families both parents work and have no one to leave their children with.
“For that group of parents who are really obliged (to send their children to school) we have already scheduled classes of five or six students and have assigned them a teacher to come to the school,” she added.
Those who can stay at home are sent class materials online, as is the case for the majority of secondary students.
Fathi complained that poor internet connections made this difficult but said that the combination of online and in-person classes would help families who cannot provide their children with a computer.
There are around 15 million schoolchildren in Iran and their return to classrooms has been a challenge due to the rate of infections in the country, which has been declining in recent weeks.
In the last 24 hours, 110 people died and 1,894 new cases were registered, according to health officials. EFE-EPA