Uffe Rostrup: The schools must follow the instructions before they can reopen
On Tuesday April 7th 2020, the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, presented what the government calls a gradual and controlled reopening of Denmark.
In practice, this means among other things that the schools can start teaching the youngest pupils – the preschool classes up to and including the fifth grade – starting on Wednesday April 15th. Until further notice, all other pupils will continue to receive online emergency education. And the final exams are cancelled this year.
Comply with the practical instructions
In practice, the reopening means that some of the teachers at the independent primary and lower secondary schools will return to their workplaces. The teachers at the independent boarding schools (efterskoler) will continue to teach from home. This does not apply to the few independent boarding schools and primary and secondary boarding schools at which there is emergency education and care.
The primary and lower secondary schools should and can only reopen if they comply with a number of very restrictive health instructions. The instructions include among other things that:
- The pupils’ tables should be placed so that there is a distance of two metres between the pupils.
- The pupils should arrive at the school in shifts to prevent too many pupils in one place at the same time.
- It should be easy and possible for the pupils and the employees to wash their hands several times per day.
- Tables, toilets, chairs, etc. should be cleaned at least twice a day.
- As far as possible, teaching should take place outdoors.
- The pupils should stay in the same classroom, and the teachers should come to the pupils.
It is the responsibility of the school management to make sure that the school complies with the health authorities’ requirements. And the school management should inform everybody –parents, pupils and employees – about the instructions and the school’s initiatives to prevent infection.
At a subsequent press conference on Wednesday April 8th, the Danish Minister for Education, Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil, stressed that the schools neither should nor can reopen before they are ready to comply with the instructions.
This applies to the independent schools as well, stresses the chairman of the Teachers' Union for Danish Independent Schools (Frie Skolers Lærerforening), Uffe Rostrup:
“The same instructions and guidelines as in the municipal school system apply to our area: The schools can only start working again when it is certain that they comply with the health authorities’ instructions. And the schools are only allowed to open if they can comply with the very strict rules.”
A number of municipalities have already announced that they cannot reopen on Wednesday April 15th. Many of them do not have enough washbasins and other practical circumstances. Other municipal schools state that they open for some classes only, for instance the youngest classes, because that is the only way in which they can comply with the distance requirements.
Safety ensured by means of dialogue
To Uffe Rostrup, it is both crucial and important that the independent schools comply with the requirements of the health authorities:
“This is about the safety of the employees. Together, we must make sure that the gradual reopening will be as safe as possible, and this will only be the case if the schools comply with the health instructions.”
The Teachers' Union for Danish Independent Schools expects that the school’s working environment organisation will be asked to participate in risk assessment and make a plan which ensures that the school complies with all the instructions.
In this work, it is important that the union representatives focus on their colleagues’ security and safety.
If you are uncertain as to whether or not your school complies with the instructions or whether or not it is safe for you to come to work, please contact your union representative, your working environment representative or the union’s main office.