There is no question of distance learning longer than until January 9, said the Minister of Education and Science Przemysław Czarnek, referring to Tuesday’s announcements by the health ministry that schools would switch to remote learning for the pre-Christmas period. The minister also spoke about the obligation to vaccinate teachers, noting that he would approach him “with caution”. The announcements of the Ministry of Health were also commented by representatives of teachers’ unions.
We will want to introduce the obligation to vaccinate against COVID-19 for medics, teachers and uniformed services from March 1 – Health Minister Adam Niedzielski announced on Tuesday. In turn, Deputy Minister of Health Waldemar Kraska announced that distance learning will be introduced in primary and secondary schools from December 20 to January 9. After this date, children will return to full-time education. After December 20, nurseries and kindergartens will work in a stationary mode as before.
Czarnek about compulsory vaccinations for teachers
The minister of education, Przemysław Czarnek, stated that he is a supporter of vaccinations. “I am vaccinated against COVID-19 as well as vaccinated against the flu. Besides, my whole family is vaccinated. So I am a supporter of vaccinations and I encourage them. However, I would approach the issue of the obligation to vaccinate against COVID-19 with great caution – whether it is even justified to force only certain professional groups to vaccinate. Is it even justified to force anyone to vaccinate – said Minister Czarnek. He added that “there have been more and more narratives and expert statements in the media for some time, which look more like blunt propaganda than real reliable information, and propaganda is just as harmful as the irresponsible nonsense of anti-vaccines.”
He noted that “Minister Niedzielski announced a plan to introduce compulsory vaccinations for medics, teachers and uniformed services from March 1, while decisions on this matter have not yet been taken.” – These are not things that, in my opinion, can be introduced by a regulation. In this matter, the Sejm must first decide – emphasized Minister Czarnek.
He explained that the head of the health ministry, “speaking of new restrictions, would like to end the coronavirus pandemic as soon as possible.” – I understand it perfectly well, so I encourage you to vaccinate. However, I recommend that you be very careful about compulsory vaccinations – added the head of MEiN.
Education Minister: distance learning no later than January 9
Asked about the legitimacy of introducing remote learning at school from December 20 to January 9, while nurseries and kindergartens will continue to operate unchanged, Minister Czarnek said that “this is a decision of the services dealing with coronavirus”. – It was dictated by Christmas Eve and Christmas, as explained by the services dealing with combating the pandemic – said Minister Czarnek.
He noted that children do not go to distance learning for a long time. – It is only a few days – a total of 7 days of study, which, including the Christmas break, give us three weeks of breaking school-related contacts, not three months – said the head of MEiN. He noted that “in the opinion of the services, contacts should be limited before Christmas meetings so that there are as few infections as possible in families, especially among the elderly”. – However, after Christmas, many educational institutions planned director days, at least until January 7, the minister pointed out.
The head of MEiN stated that he accepts the arguments of health care services, but “there is no longer distance learning than until January 9”. – We need stationary education and that is why this year, from September 1, despite various opposition voices and encouragement from various opposition groups, we are continuing stationary education and will continue it after the full holiday season – said the minister.
Trade unions on the decisions of the health ministry
Trade union representatives referred to Tuesday’s decisions of the Ministry of Health on distance learning and compulsory vaccinations for teachers. – When it comes to remote work, we can clearly see a growing problem in many schools and institutions in different regions of the country. It varies, but the tendency is negative – more and more branches, more and more employees and more and more children are in quarantine or isolation. This is, in my opinion, quite a good move – said Sławomir Wittkowicz from the Trade Union Forum.
– I hope that it will actually end on January 9, unless the ministry then repeats the operation from last year and immediately announces the holidays on one date for everyone, which may cause problems when it comes to tourist traffic during winter holidays – he noted.
– As for the introduction of compulsory vaccination for certain groups of workers, we clearly indicate that it may violate civil rights and rights – said Wittkowicz. – I think that just this compulsion will not cause a mass level of vaccination. I think this is too far-fetched – he added. He indicated that it is not known how parliamentary circles would react to the idea of introducing compulsory vaccinations.
The president of the Polish Teachers Association, Sławomir Broniarz, referring to the transition to distance learning, admitted that he did not understand “this movement, because either there is a pandemic and we are introducing it from tomorrow, or the minister is a fortune-teller and, based on some mathematical simulations, he thinks that the peak of infections is will take place on December 20 “. – And if the summit is to take place on December 20, you should protect yourself today – he said.
He pointed to the current epidemic data on the number of new infections and deaths of people with COVID-19. – I also do not understand the schedule for introducing compulsory vaccinations from March 1 – he added. – We are waiting for the draft of this regulation and its justification, including clarification of the dates on December 20 and March 1 – Broniarz pointed out.
– Decisions in such matters are taken by professionals, they are not within the competence of trade unions, but we can see what is happening – said Ryszard Proksa, chairman of the National Section of Education and Upbringing of NSZZ “Solidarność”, commenting on the announcements of the Ministry of Health. – We believe that those professions that are directly exposed to contact with people who may be infected should absolutely, even without a warrant, do this. It is a guarantee not only of health, but sometimes also of life – he pointed out, referring to the obligation to vaccinate.
Main photo source: PAP / Piotr Polak