As in many European countries, the education sector in Serbia has largely resorted to remote teaching in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the country is bracing to a gradual reopening of education institutions, education trade unions are at the forefront of the work to ensure that exit strategies consider the need to protect the health and safety of education personnel and students.
On 28 April 2020, representatives from education trade unions TUS, NTTU, and SSPOV met with representatives of Ministries and local governments to consider circumstances and procedures to gradually reopen the kindergartens from 11 May 2020. The trade unions representatives sought reassurances from authorities regarding the protection of the health and safety of children and all employees in kindergartens during the reopening of schools. While a limited number of kindergartens will reopen at the date of 11 May, and only for families in which no parent is able to work from home, strict health and safety requirements were discussed, including the provision of hygienic tools for education institutions, their employees, students and parents. Concerns from trade union representatives also included the need for preparation for reopening to be finished at least one week in advance.
Meanwhile, as the end of the academic year approaches, and the school year in elementary and secondary schools is set to end remotely, on 31May 2020, provisions for final examinations are put in place. Elementary schools’ final examinations are to take place online, and while technical problems have been experienced, in a three days test run 92% of elementary students were able to participate to this trial examination. Final examinations will be organised in elementary schools at the end of June, and only a limited number of students needing to improve their marks will be invited to come to schools from the beginning of June for revisions. Faculty students will also be invited to final examinations in June.