From Cooks and Cleaners to Educators?

In the near future, Parliament will again debate pandemic measures in schools. With the newly emerging Covid-19 omicron variant spreading very quickly, schools are faced not only with large numbers of students being quarantined, but also with a shortage of teaching staff.

What's the catch? The fact that the health authorities refuse to close schools as long as a certain number of staff are present, which of course includes cooks, cleaners and school staff. In the autumn of 2020, former chief hygienist Jarmila Rážová stated that if 30 percent of teachers and pupils fall ill, the school will be closed. This does not only apply to covid, but is also the procedure for other epidemics such as influenza.

The government has come up with a solution to the situation, which has provided for an extraordinary principal's leave of absence of up to ten days. The entitlement to nursing allowance for parents would then be 60 per cent of salary. However, everything is still under discussion by the government.

An unpleasant situation is faced, for example, by the primary school in Sloupnice, where three quarters of the teaching staff at the first level were absent and entire classes were quarantined. Hygiene refused to close the school. Similar circumstances had to be dealt with by Jana Drake, the principal of the Prof. Jan Patočka Grammar School in Prague. The staffing crisis was so extensive that there were no substitutes in the classrooms. Unfortunately, the hygiene department again refused to close the school because it did not meet the requirement of 30 per cent of pupils being ill.

Entire schools were closed in Litoměřice. The deputy head of the Ostrovní school added that the classrooms had to be supervised by cleaners due to a lack of staff. Only 6 teachers out of 23 were present in the school and entire classes were quarantined.

Education Minister Petr Gazdík confirmed that he would discuss the situation again. But surely the number of schools with an epidemic crisis will grow in the coming days. The solution may also be online teaching, which most teachers and pupils have already got used to thanks to the pandemic.


Schools have to contend not only with large numbers of students being quarantined, but also with a shortage of teaching staff.

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