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Education institutions are closing for two weeks across Lithuania due to coronavirus

Date

2020 03 12

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Today the Cabinet meeting has made a decision that it is recommended as of 13 March, and is obligatory as of 16 March, to suspend the process of education, training and study in all educational institutions, i.e. universities, colleges and schools, as well as day and activity centres, kindergartens and non-formal education establishments until 27 March.

According to Aurelius Veryga, the head of state-level emergency operations and Health Minister, educational institutions are clearly places where the risk of spreading the virus is extremely high.

‘We have taken these measures immediately to prevent potential threats from the new coronavirus. The need for this solution is demonstrated by examples from other countries, when it turns out to be too late later on. I believe that modern technology will do a great job in keeping the educational process going, if necessary. Let us protect ourselves and others’, says Minister Veryga, stressing the importance of public awareness of all preventive recommendations during this period.

‘We must stop the spread of the virus by all means. In the meantime, we are announcing compulsory two-week school holidays for educational institutions’, says Algirdas Monkevičius, Minister of Education, Science and Sports.

Next week, it will be specified, as to which part of the holidays (spring, summer) will be waived later on. Other forms of learning will also be considered in the event a two-week quarantine is not sufficient. Educators will work during the school holidays, but public institutions will set up remote work.

Municipalities will be required to provide child care in exceptional cases in child care institutions where this cannot be achieved at home.

It is recommended that employers ensure that parents with children are able to work remotely or, in the absence of such opportunity, issue a certificate of incapacity for work in accordance with the same procedure as suspecting contact with an infected person.

In Lithuania, children under the age of 6 or children with disabilities, in consideration of their special needs, should not be left alone without the objective necessity, and should be cared for by adults or adolescents over 14 years of age. This means that with the education process having been stopped, pupils could stay at home alone, while kindergarteners would need supervision of elders.

 ‘We want to inform parents with young children that there are several options for child care, when the education process is suspended. We recommend that you first consult with your employer regarding telework or, if that is not possible, apply for a certificate of incapacity for work, request help from relatives or take a short leave’, says Linas Kukuraitis, Minister of Social Security and Labour.

What options are there for parents and guardians with young children in need of care?

The Ministry of Social Security and Labour informs about the options for parents and guardians with young children in need of care:

TELEWORK. Parents or guardians may request their employer to work remotely. Unless the employer proves that teleworking would create excessive costs, he or she must comply with the employee’s request to telework at least 1/5 of the working time required, where an employee is pregnant, has recently given birth, is breastfeeding, raises a child under 3 years of age, or is a single parent raising a child under 14 years of age or a disabled child under 18 years of age.

CERTIFICATE OF INCAPACITY FOR WORK. When an education establishment adopts a regime to restrict the spread of infection, parents or guardians of kindergarteners, pre-schoolers and primary school pupils may apply for a certificate of incapacity for work for up to 14 calendar days. During this period, Sodra pays a sickness benefit of up to 65.94 percent from the gross pay.  

LEAVE. Parents or guardians may ask their employer for leave, either annual or unpaid.

ASSISTANCE. Parents may ask other people, such as grandparents, older siblings and the like, to take care of their child.

Other countries in Europe have also closed schools fearing threat of the spread of coronavirus. Schools have been temporarily closed in Italy, Spain, Germany and France. In addition to pupils from countries with the largest outbreaks, pupils from Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Greece will also have to be absent from school for some time. In other countries, individual schools with a case of coronavirus are stopping their activities, participation in mass events is restricted on a national level, and student tours are cancelled.