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25 Aug, 2020 19:19

Russia’s Ministry of Education rejects proposed one-month delay to new school year, after appeal from parliamentary opposition MP

Russia’s Ministry of Education rejects proposed one-month delay to new school year, after appeal from parliamentary opposition MP

A Russian MP’s proposal to start the school year a month later than normal to minimize the risks from the spread of coronavirus has failed to sway the Ministry of Education, meaning the official start date remains September 1.

Vasily Vlasov, of the nationalist LDPR had suggested that this year's summer break, which traditonally ends on the first day of September, should be extended by one month due to the pandemic.

In his letter to the education minister, seen by news agency RIA Novosti, the lawmaker cited Covid-19 statistics which currently show around 5,000 new confirmed cases every day.

One more month [of school break] will postpone social contacts and thus help prevent an outbreak of the disease,” the MP wrote. Unless such a precaution is exercised, the country's healthcare system could be overloaded, he warned.

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Although many children would undoubtedly be happy with the prospect of not attending school for four more weeks, the proposal did not please the ministry. Its press service assured RIA that there will be no threat of Covid-19 outbreaks in schools, providing they follow the safety regulations already issued. 

The ministry also warned that any rumors about a possible delay to the school year will only provoke social tension, “intentionally or unintentionally.” 

Vlasov's initiative also found opposition among parents' organizations. The chairwoman of Russia's National Parents Committee Irina Volynets said she expects that the majority of parents will not side with the lawmaker.

Last week, Education Minister Sergey Kravtsov once again expressed his opinion that the school year should start as usual on September 1 (which is also the official Day of Knowledge in Russia), and in an offline format. 

“Remote education will never replace the traditional style,” he told an online meeting of children’s rights advocates. “Students and teachers have been waiting for schooling to start,” Kravtsov said, stressing that the ministry will do its best to organize the educational process in the normal – that is, offline – manner.

Remarkably, as photos from the meeting show, Kravtsov's audience was divided almost evenly between those wearing face masks and those ignoring advice to don the protection.

Last week, Vlasov called on the Health Ministry to provide all students in Russia with free face masks, because “not all students and their parents can afford to buy them daily.” 

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Russia's opposition LDPR frequently proposes bills which rarely make it into law but help the nationalist party to sustain its image as a defender of the common person’s interests.

On Monday, a group of LDPR MPs and two senators proposed to allocate a 10,000 ruble ($135) bonus for families with children, in order to help them buy school necessities on the eve of the new term. 

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