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Coronavirus Appears in More and More Schools with Closings and Quarantine

Fanni Kaszás 2020.09.15.

Although the school year has started in normal circumstances and with in-person attendance despite the coronavirus epidemic, the virus is appearing in more and more schools around the country. However, there are differences in epidemiological measures across schools. While in some places the school closes after one positive case, in others, not even the affected class is quarantined. 

From October on, both teachers and students will be required to have a temperature test when entering schools. They will be using manual digital devices to check them, but in schools with large numbers, it is even imaginable that they will install thermal imagers as well. However, if the device detects that someone has a fever when they enter, it does not automatically mean that the coronavirus has appeared at the school. In this case, they should be isolated, the doctor should be notified, and the suspicious cases tested.

There were many questions about this measure among parents, teachers, and students, but Jocó bácsi, a teacher popular in social media circles, also spoke on the matter. They are looking for the answer to, among other things, who will measure the temperature of the hundreds, sometimes even a thousand children; where and how the students will wait for the  temperature check; how to isolate suspicious cases until the test results; and how they will get home in the middle of the day in case of a positive result or when quarantine is ordered. Many also suggest that a body thermometer is not the most reliable device to measure students’ temperature.

In addition, there are still many differences in epidemiological measures across schools. While in some places online education is ordered in the affected classes – or sometimes even in the whole school – after the first positive coronavirus case, in other schools, not even the infected class is quarantined.

For example, hvg.hu reported that only five students attended a 24-person class at one of the capital’s elementary schools because several students had been diagnosed with coronavirus infection. However, the school still did not send home the entire class and teachers also teach those who have decided to continue to attend classes in person. The infection presumably came from a student who took a test because of a suspected infection, but still went to school until the positive result was obtained. The situation is similar in a high school in the capital: there are ten infected people in different classes, but the affected classes have not been quarantined.

There are several other cases where, despite an infection, neither students nor teachers were sent home, similar to those described earlier. At the beginning of the school year, for example, teaching also started at the László Németh Primary School in Óbuda, although a third of the teachers were quarantined due to some infected foreign language teachers.

On the other hand, in a school in Tata, a whole class of first graders were quarantined after their teacher tested positive for coronavirus. As the teacher only had contact with her own class and some staff members, only their quarantine was ordered until midnight on Sunday. In a school in Szombathely, seven classes were also quarantined because a teacher tested positive for the virus. In Budapest, there are also 30 confirmed infected people at the Lauder Javne school. Students at the school were screened from a community fund to find infections, with 21 students and nine teachers affected.

Although Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with public television M1 last Saturday that schools would be open for as long as possible, according to a survey by GKI Digital conducted at the end of August, 48% of parents of school-age children expect digital education to return soon, while 22% think that there will be alternating education between in-person attendance and online education.

featured photo: illustration (Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI)