Partial opening of schools, kindergartens to go ahead in Slovenia despite COVID-19 variant case


LJUBLJANA, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- Kindergartens and the first three grades of primary school will open as planned on Tuesday in nine of Slovenia's 12 regions, the prime minister's office confirmed to local media on Monday.

After the new variant of coronavirus first identified in the UK was confirmed on Sunday, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa solicited opinions from the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ), both of which said the reopening may proceed. "Let's help teachers to make sure work is safe," Jansa tweeted.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport said in its opinion that schools were prepared and classes would be safe, while the NIJZ said its position remained unchanged and noted that it would carefully monitor the situation at educational institutions and "propose further measures at any sign of a deteriorating epidemiological situation."

Slovenia conducted mass testing of all teachers who will return to in-person teaching on Monday. Around 53,000 primary school pupils and almost 75,000 kindergarten children are expected to return to classrooms.

The government adopted a new stimulus bill on Monday, with the extension of the furlough scheme and minimum wage subsidies as key measures to help companies weather through the epidemic.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in Slovenia and some other countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 64 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by the World Health Organization on Jan. 22.

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