Moscow Schools to Partially Return to Classes to Contain Virus

First to fifth-grade students in Moscow will return to classrooms next week following a two-week recess aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced Wednesday.

Moscow authorities had extended the traditional weeklong fall school break by a week in an effort to prevent children from contracting and spreading the coronavirus, which has seen record increases in recent days.

“The measure has proven to be effective. The portion of children among the infected has decreased from 19 to 11% in recent days,” Sobyanin said in a statement on his website.

Students in grades 6-11, who account for two-thirds of reported infections among children, will continue to attend classes remotely until the end of the month, Sobyanin said.

State-owned supplementary education centers and recreational facilities for children of all age groups will remain closed until Nov. 1.

The government had suspended schoolchildren’s public-transport discounts during the holiday period and will keep this measure in place for students remaining on remote learning.

Sobyanin also announced plans to introduce a tutoring model in some classrooms. Student teachers and recent teaching graduates will be invited to teach in classrooms under the remote supervision of more experienced teachers deemed to be at increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19.

Russia has been reporting a growing number of new Covid-19 cases since September, with a new all-time record of 14,231 new cases set on Wednesday.

According to information obtained by the Vedomosti business daily, Moscow authorities will consider tightening existing restrictions if daily infection numbers continue to rise. Possible measures may include a digital pass system and even a return to full lockdown.

Moscow School Survey Tests Teachers’ Political Loyalty

Public schools across Moscow have received a survey that measures their teachers’ political activity and loyalty to the authorities, the independent Dozhd broadcaster reported Sunday.

The survey asks teachers whether they participated in pro-Kremlin or opposition rallies in recent years, as well as whether they backed coups to achieve political change, Dozhd reported. The teachers are also reportedly asked whether they discuss current global and national events with their students.

Citing two unnamed teachers, the outlet said that superintendents are pressing their subordinates to take the survey authored by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA).

“This questionnaire is one of the hottest news items in the professional community,” Dozhd quoted Dmitry Rogozin, principal investigator at RANEPA’s survey research methodology lab, as saying.

The Moscow Education Department said Monday that it was not involved in RANEPA’s survey, the state-run TASS news agency reported.

“The Department of Education did not send these questions to the schools,” it said, adding that RANEPA had chosen the questions and is processing results independently.

The teachers’ loyalty survey comes amid record low popularity for the ruling elites and follows survey results showing support for President Vladimir Putin dropping by half among young voters in the past year.

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