By: Sara Rančigaj
“Those who will not get the rapid test, will not teach in school,” the government spokesman Jelko Kacin said in a press conference on Saturday. He believes it is crucial to ensure safe conditions for the schooling of all students, so in his opinion, the key part of the staff should get tested before the schools open. The government thus planned to perform rapid testis during the weekend after the holidays, after which at least the first triad could have returned to school on the 4th of January. However, the President of the Association of Primary School Headmasters of Slovenia, Gregor Pečan, who has already opposed the closing of schools in the past, once again disagreed with this plan. Pečan was also joined by the Secretary-General of the Education, Science and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia (Sindikat vzgoje, izobraževanja, znanosti in kulture – referred to as SVIZ), Branimir Štrukelj, who believes that rapid tests for teachers are humiliating, during a time we are facing the epidemic and the safety of our children is in question. As it turns out, the Association of Principals and SVIZ do not like any of the government proposals, despite the fact that we are currently facing a state of emergency.
According to the Minister of Education Simona Kustec, following the “most ideal plan,” the pupils of the first triad of primary school will return to schools on the 4th of January, kindergartens would open for more children, and the institutions and schools for children and students with special needs would also reopen, based on the decision of the Constitutional Court. On Saturday, the government spokesman Jelko Kacin said at a government conference that schools must be safe for the children when they reopen. Therefore, the government decided that it should take care of the safety of children by providing testing for the teachers, just before the schools open. Given the reopening of various educational institutions, this New Year’s testing would be available for employees in various segments.
The aforementioned government’s intentions, however, are once again not to the liking of the President of the Association of Primary School Headmasters of Slovenia, Gregor Pečan, and the Secretary-General of the Trade Union of Education, Science and Culture, Branimir Štrukelj. Firstly, they do not agree with the rapid testing taking place over the weekend of the 2nd and 3rd of January and insist that the testing of teachers should be done on a workday, which means that, as a result, the learning process could be interrupted. Even if the testing would be carried out during the weekend after the holidays, they believe that it is a very demanding project, which in which both associations could help, however, they are opposing the testing. The Association of Headmasters and the school trade union SVIZ believe that there is currently no legal basis for mandatory rapid testing for the infection with the novel coronavirus in education.
Regardless of the fact that they are against rapid testing, in the end, they both suggested that testing should only be carried out on a workday, which they must also previously agree with. They also agreed that, given the large number of employees, as well as pupils and students, it is necessary to come to an agreement together, on how they will perform the quick tests, but they certainly insist that they be performed on a workday, despite the fact that this could disrupt the learning process. The aforementioned weekend does not seem like the appropriate time for testing to them. “These things did not start happening yesterday, and they could have been organized differently if there was the will to do so,” Pečan was critical. According to him, the government could have prepared the measures in a timely manner, which could then also have been finalized in agreement with the principals and teachers. According to SVIZ, the government should first decide what it intends to do when it comes to the reopening of schools and only then should they determine further steps, regarding the testing.
For the government, the safety of the children comes first
“Those who will not get the rapid test, will not teach in school,” Kacin said in a press conference on Saturday, which has become a significant thorn in the SVIZ’s side. SVIZ believes that with this, Kacin literally “shooed them” away to get tested, and they believe that this has once again demonstrated the inadmissible, insulting and arrogant attitude of the authorities. Nonetheless, Kacin emphasized that the government puts the safety and health of the children first, so he believes it is important that the teachers take the quick tests, as this is the only way they can be sure that children are safe.
Meanwhile, SVIZ is already searching for a legal basis to effectively block the obligation of teachers to take part in rapid testing, although on the other hand, they ensure that they do not reject the idea of teachers being tested, but rather, they encourage it. Štrukelj is critical of Prime Minister Janez Janša, who called for a joint commitment of all school and trade union leaders to take action to limit the spread of the infection. According to Štrukelj, the initiative is pointless and humiliating, as teachers have made every effort to limit the epidemic. Štrukelj is critical of Janša despite the fact that, among other things, he himself was against the closure of schools, as well as part of the campaign, in which they called for a school without masks.