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Armenia To Again Reopen Schools


Armenia -- High school students in Yerevan wear face masks, September 15, 2020.

The government has decided to fully reopen Armenia’s schools that were shut down on October 15 due to a sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

A resurgence in officially registered COVID-19 cases began in mid-September and accelerated after the subsequent outbreak of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Armenian Ministry of Health routinely reported more than 2,000 cases a day in late October and the first half of November.

The daily number of new cases has averaged roughly 1,500 for the last two weeks. Ministry officials say this has somewhat eased the burden on Armenia’s hospitals struggling to cope with the pandemic.

The Ministry of Education ordered all schools to switch back to online classes after a two-week autumn holiday that began on October 15. It reopened primary schools across the country on November 13.

The ministry announced on Tuesday that secondary and high schools must also reopen their doors to students on December 7. It said that strict sanitary and hygienic rules, set by Health Minister Arsen Torosian for all educational establishments in September, will remain in place.

The rules stipulate, among other things, that there can be no more than 20 schoolchildren in a classroom at a time and all of them must be seated apart and wear face masks during classes. School administrations have to provide students with hand sanitizers and regularly disinfect classrooms.

Also, teachers who are aged 65 and older or suffer from chronic diseases will still be allowed to continue working online. In addition, the rules mandate the closure of schools hit by coronavirus outbreaks affecting at least 10 percent of their students and staff.

Despite the recent weeks’ decrease in the daily number of new cases, Armenia’s infection rate remains high for a country of about 3 million. So does the number of deaths caused by COVID-19. The Ministry of Health reported on Tuesday morning the deaths of 46 more people infected with the disease.

The official death toll from the pandemic rose to 2,193. Health authorities say the figure does not include 559 deaths primarily caused by other diseases.

A Ministry of Health spokeswoman also cautioned at the weekend that the number of COVID-19 patients remaining in a critical or serious condition has not yet started falling.

At the same time, ministry data shows that more people are continuing to recover from COVID-19 than to contract it on a daily basis. There were 22,850 active coronavirus cases in Armenia as of Tuesday morning, down from 25,228 cases recorded on November 26.

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