2020.03.12 11:11

Coronavirus: Minister proposes closing schools in Lithuania for two weeks

BNS 2020.03.12 11:11

The Lithuanian education minister has drafted a plan to close down the country's schools for two weeks in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The government is expected to make the decision on Thursday.

“We see the situation as threatening. In light of the situation [...] in other countries, my proposal is to halt [the educational process] for two weeks starting tomorrow,” Education, Science and Sport Minister Algirdas Monkevičius said.

Read more: 2 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Lithuania

So far, Lithuania has three confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease.

The minister expects the State Emergency Operations Centre to make a decision on the issue by Thursday lunch.

According to Monkevičius, the authorities are considering closing schools for two-week holidays to give them time to prepare for continuing the educational process remotely.

“We want to keep things under control to prevent panics. There are kindergartens, secondary schools, vocational schools and universities. We have to make arrangements to use the holiday period, where available, [...] to prepare for remote education,” he said.

According to Monkevičius, his ministry is monitoring the situation and collecting information about students, teachers and other staff members who have returned from coronavirus hot spots.

Read more: Lithuanian military officers test negative for Covid-19 after trip to Germany

The Lithuanian parliament may also interrupt its sessions for two weeks, the leader of the ruling Farmers and Greens Union said on Thursday.

“The proposal is to go into recess for the next two weeks,” MP Ramūnas Karbauskis said. “We will see what situation we are in and if there are no cases among the Seimas staff and MPs, then we'll be able to return to work.”

The parliament's Conference of Chairs will discuss the proposal on Thursday, he added.

Lithuania has confirmed three coronavirus cases to date. All three tested positive for the virus after returning from northern Italy.

Globally, more than 126,000 cases of the COVID-19 infection have been reported, 4,600 people have died, and 68,000 have recovered.