reopen elementary schools
COVID-19 infections are decreasing in Czech Republic, paving the way for the reopening of elementary schools. Source: Michal Cizek/AFP

The Czech government said Wednesday (Nov. 11, 2020) it would reopen elementary schools for first and second graders next week as the growth in the number of COVID-19 infections has started to slow down.

“On Nov. 18, 2020, the pupils of first and second grades will return to schools,” Education Minister Robert Plaga told reporters.

This is the first easing of restrictions imposed in September and October when the number of cases started to soar in the EU member of 10.7 million people.

The Czech Republic still fares the worst in the bloc in terms of new cases and deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

But the daily growth in cases has started to slow to some 9,000 on Tuesday from around 15,000 in most of the past weeks.

On Wednesday morning, the country registered some 430,000 confirmed cases and over 5,300 deaths since the March outbreak.

Plaga said the returning children aged six to eight would have to wear face masks all the time and called on schools to ensure regular ventilation.

He added schools for the handicapped would open as well.

The Czech Republic handled the COVID-19 pandemic well in the spring but it was slow to react to the second wave.

The government has closed most shops, all schools, restaurants and bars, cinemas and theatres, restricted public gatherings and imposed an overnight curfew to battle the disease.