Authorities in the northern Armenian city of Vanadzor shut down three local kindergartens on Wednesday after the parents of some children attending them were infected with the coronavirus.
Vanadzor Mayor Mamikon Aslanian said most of those parents work at a large textile factory which suspended its operations last week due to a coronavirus outbreak.
“We had warned the kindergarten principals to immediately alert us if their kids’ parents are infected or have been in contact [with infected persons,]” Aslanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “[Three of them] alerted us in writing and we took measures to shut down those kindergartens.”
They will remain closed for at least two weeks, the mayor said, adding that there are no confirmed coronavirus cases among kindergarten staff.
According to the local authorities, at least 153 workers of the textile factory belonging to the Vanadzor-based Gloria company have tested positive for the virus. The total number of coronavirus cases registered in Vanadzor and surrounding Lori province stood at 302 as of Wednesday morning, compared with 14,103 cases recorded nationwide.
Gloria employs about 2,600 people, making it Armenia’s largest textile manufacturer. Less than 10 percent of its mostly female workers have undergone COVID-19 tests so far.
Kindergartens across the country reopened on May 20 following the lifting of virtually all coronavirus-related restrictions imposed by the Armenian government in late March. The government allowed them to resume their work despite the growing number of new COVID-19 infections reported by the health authorities. It said this will help many parents of young children return to work.
The government set detailed safety and hygiene rules designed to protect kindergarten students against the epidemic. Judging by low attendance rates reported by kindergarten administrations, most parents are unconvinced by these precautions.
Aslanian said as much as 90 percent of about 2,000 children enrolled in Vanadzor’s two dozen kindergartens stayed at home when they reopened their doors three weeks ago. Even fewer parents sent their kids to the pre-school institutions in the following weeks, he said.
“They were probably wary because we ourselves urged those parents who can keep their kids at home not to send them to kindergartens,” added the mayor.