Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi during his meeting with education minister Tarek Shawki on Tuesday, 1 September 2020. (Photo courtesy of the Egyptian presidency spokesman official Facebook page)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met with Education Minister Tarek Shawki on Tuesday to discuss preparations for the new academic year, which is slated to begin on October 17, as schools brace for a return amid the coronavirus pandemic.
El-Sisi was briefed by the minister on preparations for the new year, his office said in a statement, and on the ministry’s comprehensive upgraded plan for the education system, including a digital transformation and a revamping of the high school system.
According to media reports, the education ministry is proposing reducing the number school days for some school grades to two days only, to help manage the risk of the coronavirus.
These grades would rely more on remote learning; electronic networks in schools would be improved and students would be linked with the new education system effectively.
The plan suggests governmental schools operate in two shifts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, with a break between the exit of morning students and the arrival of afternoon students to avoid crowding.
Private schools will not be allowed to host all student grades on campus on the same day. The plan instead suggests that attendance be limited to two or three grades per day.
Some private international schools have set the beginning of the academic year to early September but will rely on remote learning until at least 15 September, as advised by the ministry.
Egypt has 23 million school students in kindergarten through high school.
The ministry plan is based on social distancing, good ventilation, periodic disinfection, disease monitoring, raising awareness, among other elements. It is proposed to be applied until the end of the school year on June 24, 2021.
Students will be divided in smaller groups for school activities which require groups.
The ministry’s plan also proposes temperature checks for students, teachers and visitors prior to entering or exiting the premises and before using the school bus.
Students will be required to maintain distancing of not less than 2 metres during morning assembly. School supervisors will regulate students’ entrance to class to avoid crowding.
Recess is to be held at two different times, the plan suggests, while sports are permitted only if they are no contact or limited contact.
The use of masks will be mandatory for all children over the age of two.
The plan stresses the importance of the availability of a temporary quarantine room, designated for suspected cases among students, teachers and staff.
Schools and universities suspended in-person classes in March in the wake of the spread of the disease. Most students have remained at home since, with assignments given online, although pupils taking their final high school exams did so in person in June and July.