MINSK, 25 March (BelTA) – The Education Ministry of Belarus believes that at this stage there is no need to cancel classes at higher learning institutions and vocational colleges over the COVID-19 coronavirus, Head of the Main Department for Vocational Training at the Education Ministry Sergei Kasperovich said during a stream for students, BelTA has learned.
“At present, we believe that it does not make sense to cancel classes at universities, colleges and other educational institutions taking into consideration the information provided by the Healthcare Ministry and the current developments. There is no need in it today,” Sergei Kasperovich said.
In his words, a lot has been done to minimize contacts among learners – from canceling or postponing mass events to rescheduling in-person classes. Higher learning institutions adjusted their timetables to reduce traffic during rush hours and to separate flows of passengers going to work and to school.
At the same time, Healthcare Minister Vladimir Karanik noted that the health condition of students is closely monitored. Students showing even the slightest symptoms of a viral infection are urged to stay indoors and call in a doctor.
As far as transition from in-person instruction to online classes is concerned, it was done by Belarusian National Technical University. Students were offered to stay indoors and switch to online classes without leaving Minsk. The thing is that the central laboratory that does coronavirus tests is located in Minsk. Thus if students showed symptoms of a viral infection, they could take a test and get a result pretty fast.
“As it turned out, about 600 students of Belarusian National Technical University left Minsk that very day. During the day we forwarded information about them to local healthcare services so that they could take them under control. Over a hundred were hospitalized all over Belarus as they showed symptoms of a viral respiratory infection, however none of them tested positive for coronavirus,” Vladimir Karanik said.
According to the minister, Belarus' coronavirus containment efforts are reasonable at this stage. Efficiency is at the core of the contingency planning. Additional measures will be taken if risks increase. “However, we do not see high risks today,” he added.