Mass testing of the employees of educational institutions took place on Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s reopening of kindergartens and schools for the first three grades. The Ministry of Health announced that according to the data which was recorded in the Central Register of Data (managed by the National Institute of Public Health) by 9 p.m., 20,816 rapid antigen tests (RAT) had been performed, of which 278 were positive, which is a share of 1.3 percent. As we can see, it is a good thing that the testing took place after all. If things were to go the way Štrukelj from the Trade Union of Education, Science and Culture of Slovenia wanted them to go, the infected teachers and educators would have gone to school today, which could have, of course, endangered the return of children to schools and kindergartens.
Branimir Štrukelj was very bothered by the fact that the Minister of Education, Science and Sport, professor Simona Kustec, Ph.D., emphasised that testing of all employees from the nine of the twelve Slovenian regions where schools are reopening, will be mandatory. The Trade Union of Education, Science and Culture (Sindikat vzgoje, izobraževanja, znanosti in kulture – hereinafter referred to as SVIZ) pointed out that testing would be very difficult to carry out, as, according to them, no logistical plans for the testing had been drawn up. They also pointed out the confusion regarding the question of (non)obligatory testing.
They pushed for the testing to be voluntary
SVIZ called on the government to get serious, to discuss the matter internally and then “stop spreading confusion.” They emphasised that they wanted the pedagogical work to start in a positive and constructive atmosphere. “The Union wants the testing of the teachers to be voluntary, as ‘respectful, open and honest persuasion of employees would be much more effective than ordering them around, insulting and punishing them.’ They are convinced that the vast majority of the employees are aware that testing contributes to limiting the spread and helps gain greater control of the epidemic,” they stated, according to the Slovenian Press Agency.
Fortunately, the Ministry did not agree with SVIZ, and it emphasised that whoever would test positive, would have to go into isolation and call their doctor. Vesna Kerstin Petrič, Director-General of the Public Health Directorate at the Ministry of Health, reiterated on Friday that the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, had prepared a protocol for testing employees in kindergartens and schools, as well as a protocol for testing university teachers. She also emphasised that we need to be aware of the fact that testing the education employees before schools reopen and at least once a week after that, is one of the key measures, supported by all Slovenian professional institutions, as well as the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. “These conditions are necessary for us to be able to keep children in schools,” she made it clear.
The majority of teachers had no problems with testing at all
Despite the fact that SVIZ kept emphasising that testing would be difficult to carry out, it is obvious that this was not the case. The teachers were obviously more than happy with the organisation and implementation of the testing. One of the teachers, for example, wrote the following: “I just came from the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre, where I got tested. Great organisation, no lines, the whole thing, including parking, took me only a few minutes. Bravo! My co-workers are also very satisfied!” Because of the testing, the teachers that are infected will not pose a risk of infecting the entire class they teach. This is, of course, a great thing, as just over 53 thousand children from the first three grades are returning to schools, and almost 75 thousand children are returning to kindergarten. When the SVIZ leadership, headed by the politically motivated Branimir Štrukelj, began opposing the mandatory testing, this, of course, surprised many, as the majority of parents, teachers and children can hardly wait for the gradual return to school. Given the responses of the employees in the education sector before the testing itself, it was obvious that most teachers have no problem with testing, nor with the wearing of protective masks, as they put safety first.
Štrukelj’s opposition to mandatory testing is, after all, not all that surprising, considering that SVIZ and the SD party caused a lot of confusion last year, regarding the wearing of protective masks, which they thought was insanely problematic in the process of teaching itself. Then, of course, they changed their minds when they saw that this contributed to the exponential growth of COVID-19 infections. Luckily, it all ended the way it did. However, if things would have happened the way Štrukelj wanted them to, the schools and kindergartens would soon have to start closing again, which is something no one wants. With this move, Štrukelj undoubtedly showed that the political interests of the left come before the health of the citizens, which is sad. This also makes the fact that many people want Štrukelj to be replaced by someone else way less surprising.