Weeks before the school year officially starts in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the authorities in two administrative units have decided their students would go back to traditional classes – despite the coronavirus pandemic and rising number of infections in the country.
Herzegovina-Neretva Canton (HNK), one of ten cantons in Bosnia's Federation (FBiH) entity, has announced the start of the new school year for September 7, in the classrooms. The canton's education minister, Rasid Hadzovic, said the decision might change only if the crisis management group orders different.
Education is a sector that each of ten cantons manages individually and the HNK was the first to announce its plans in the FBiH, one of two country's semi-autonomous parts.
Republika Srpska (RS), Bosnia's other semi-autonomous entity, has a centralised educational authority, which has not defined yet how the classes would be held in the upcoming school year.
But Brcko District did. The smallest, separate administrative unit in Bosnia, which is not a part of any of the two entities, also said the students would return to the classrooms on the first Monday in September.
Head of Education Department at the Brcko District Government, Senad Osmanovic, said they would take the precautionary measures and test the teachers for coronavirus before the school year kicks off, they will introduce the wearing of face masks as mandatory, etc.
“We're going towards having the traditional way of education back to life,” he said.
Following the global trends caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the schools in Bosnia turned to online classes earlier this year and the students across the country sat for their final exams – online.
As Bosnia is seeing a surge in new coronavirus cases over the last weeks and only a month prior to the beginning of the school year, it remains uncertain what would the rest of the country decide.
UNICEF has recently issued recommendations on the school reopening, warning of negative effects of the school closure on the physical and mental health of children, their diet and their ability to learn.