Only students in final years, eighth and twelfth grade, will go back in June 2020 for two weeks to prepare for their exams. They will have to wear masks and be in classes with no more than ten people to ensure social distancing. Other students will only return to school in September 2020.
One of the first actions undertaken was the launch of the online platform Digital pe educred.ro by the Ministry. The Platform centralizes different types of digital resources and useful information, available for free, providing teachers the necessary means to capitalize on the new technologies for providing pupils with distance learning classes. Thus, the platform provides learning resources, digital tools for developing such resources, collaborative learning platforms, useful communication and remote collaboration tools, as well as learning communities facilitating experience and resource sharing between teachers. At the same time, the teachers and pupils can access and download from the textbook platform digital version of all textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education and Research.
This measure was accompanied by the launching of the Teleșcoala (Tele-school), an educational TV programme implemented by the Ministry of Education and Research in partnership with the Romanian Public Television (TVR), offering lessons for 8th and 12th-grade pupils, in order to ensure continuity in preparation for the national exams. The lessons are broadcasted from Monday to Friday on two channels - TVR 2 and TVR 3 - and they can also be watched on the Public Television website and YouTube channel.
In order to further support the pupils taking national examinations this year, the Ministry in collaboration with the National Centre for Evaluation and Examination, the national body responsible for the elaboration of national exam tests, has made available preparation tests. Moreover, during the lessons delivered within the Teleșcoala TV programme, the solutions to these preparation tests are provided and explained. Since the closure of schools, the Ministry has provided teachers with information and support regarding free licence educational applications (e.g. the suite of educational applications offered by Google and Microsoft) and platforms that can be used for the distance learning activities with pupils. In parallel, teachers have been provided with online training opportunities for building digital competences through live-streamed training sessions delivered by e-learning experts within the national project Relevant curriculum, open education for all (CRED).
Teachers can benefit from the continued support of the education experts from the Teacher Training Houses (national resource centres for the training and professional development of the teaching staff) located in each county and the Municipality of Bucharest, who also provide recommendations on the different e-learning tools available.
The Ministry of Education and Research maintains permanent contact with the pre-university educational institutions through the county school inspectorates, who have the obligation to monitor the pupils and teachers throughout the school closure and to report daily to the Ministry.
There are several other initiatives from organisations and private partners aimed at supporting the provision of distance learning, providing video lessons on different subjects or topics of interest for pupils, webinars for teachers on the use of digital tools, learning content, and other opportunities for personal development.
A line for psychological support on COVID-19, called “Ambassador for Community” has also been launched, within a partnership between the Ministry and a Romanian non-governmental organization. The initiative aims at providing teachers, pupils and parents with free of charge online or on the phone personalized counselling in order to better manage the current situation. To this end, two telephone lines, as well an email address are available. Within this project a video material is posted each week on the Ministry’s online platforms, in which psychologists talk about the solutions that teachers, pupils and teachers can adopt in order to overcome the current crisis.
In order to cater for the needs of technologically disadvantaged pupils and teachers, the Ministry with the support of private partners has launched the initiative “Reaction to Education”. The initiative enables the identification of teachers and pupils in need of the required material resources for distance learning (such as laptops and internet connection), followed by the provision of such resources.
The academic environment has also joined forces with the Ministry in this respect. The Foundation of the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest (USAMV Foundation), runs a project through which high school pupils from disadvantaged communities will receive tablets, with a 24 months free Internet connection. In addition, the “Euro200” National Program, implemented since 2004, is furthered implemented this year. The Program supports pupils and students with limited financial opportunities in purchasing a personal computer by means of financial support equivalent to 200 euro per student.