TEHRAN (Iran News) – Iran on Saturday opened the new school year after nearly seven months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This year, we shoulder a heavier burden of responsibility toward our students,” said President Hassan Rouhani, who oversaw the opening of schools in a video conference broadcast live on state television.
“Education will not be closed in our country even under the worst situation,” he said, urging authorities to implement health measures in schools to the level of those in military garrisons.
Education and health are equally important to society, he said, but added that parents would not be forced to send their children back to school.
Several medical professionals have voiced concern over the reopening of schools and universities in Iran, which is the worst-hit country by the coronavirus pandemic in West Asia.
Concerns over reopening of schools
Mohammad Reza Zafarghandi, the government-appointed head of Iran’s Medical Council, said in a letter to the education minister that the “surprise decision to reopen schools would no doubt lead to an increased burden” on the country’s medical workers.
On Tuesday, Iran’s Education Minister Mohsen Haji-Mirzaei defended the government’s decision to reopen the schools, saying that there is no alternative to face-to-face education.
He said that face-to-face education is better than other types of education in terms of quality.
However, the Education Ministry has announced that some parts of the country, for now being limited to red cities, will provide online education. In the orange and green zones, in-person teaching will be the option.
Haji-Mirzaei noted that a hiatus in education will pose a psychological risk to students and society in the future.
He added that the health of students and their families and the continuation of education are the government’s most important priorities for taking any decision.
Since late February, Iran has been struggling to contain the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, the deadliest in West Asia.
Iran closed schools, canceled public events and banned intercity travel in March. The government, however, began to progressively lift restrictions in April to gradually reopen its sanctions-hit economy.
New coronavirus figures
The country’s Health Ministry spokeswoman Sima Sadat Lari on Saturday put the death toll from the novel coronavirus at 22,154, saying the disease took the lives of 110 patients from Friday to Saturday.
The number of people who tested positive for COVID-19 infection rose to 384,666, following the detection of 1,894 new cases during the same period, the spokeswoman added.
She added that at least 332,131 patients have recovered from the coronavirus infection so far or have been discharged from hospitals across the country.
Among those undergoing treatment in medical centers at present, 3,708 patients are in critical health condition, Lari noted.
IRNA, Tasnim and Reuters contributed to this story.
- source : Iran Daily