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Health officials push for opening up schools

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Czech health officials are mapping out a plan for opening up schools after months of lockdown and remote learning. 

Petr Smejkal, head of the Interdisciplinary Group on Epidemic Situations (MeSES), says that the biggest cost of the lockdown hasn’t necessarily been on the economy, but on “the children who did not go to school.”

“That is something that can’t be quantified by money,” he told Prima TV. 

Robert Plaga, Minister of Education, has recently named April 12th as the possible date that kids go back into classrooms. This date is being discussed with President Zeman’s team of “experts” and hasn’t been confirmed yet.

According to Smejkal, the country needs to learn from what happened on Christmas, when the COVID-19 cases spiked. Then, everyone spent holidays with their friends and families for the first time in months. The epidemiologist says that the Easter holidays in April should contrast with that in order to keep the cases down, before thinking about opening schools. 

The expert says that people spending time with their families on Easter is literally the worst thing that could happen. 

“The worst thing that could happen is that everyone goes out for Pomlazky [the Czech Easter tradition of whipping women with the stick]. We’ll have to forgive ourselves this year.”

Smejkal also believes that punishments for not following the restrictions should be more severe, adding that people are reportedly making fun of Czechs not caring about the rules.

“It will also depend on how well the measures are enforced. People are making fun of us here, punishments are much bigger in other countries when you don’t wear a mask for example… We must attack the epidemic from all sides. It’s not just about closing things down and opening them up again.”

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