Calls to shut schools of Syria’s As-Suwayda temporarily for fear of Coronavirus spread

A delegation from the Syrian regime’s Ministry of Education visits Ira schools in the southern countryside of As-Suwayda - November 2020 (Suwayda 24)

A delegation from the Syrian regime’s Ministry of Education visits Ira schools in the southern countryside of As-Suwayda - November 2020 (Suwayda 24)


As-Suwayda – Rayan al-Atrash

Via a Facebook post, Martyre Sulieman Ashti Primary School announced on 26 November that the closure of the third section of the fifth grade, for five days, after a student tested positive for COVID-19. The school denied the news spread about the school’s complete closure, saying, “ We ask the students’ families not to spread rumors and false news.” The school’s decision was supported by school health education.

The calls made by students’ parents to close schools continue. Some parents have stopped sending their children to school in the southern province of As-Suwayda due to their fear of transmitting the coronavirus between students and teaching staff. The Syrian regime’s Ministry of Education responded by filing a lawsuit against the notables calling for implementing preventive health measures.  

Ten Coronavirus confirmed cases among students 

The first time the Education Directorate in the province of As-Suwayda decides to close a school due to the spread of the novel coronavirus was when ten out of 22 students at Salman al-Safadi Secondary School in the southern Salkhad region tested positive for the coronavirus. At that time, the school was closed for ten days “to conduct disinfection at the school building.”

Two days later, the Emirate of Dar Ira, represented by Prince Loay al-Atrash, decided to close its schools in the southern countryside of Daraa. “After the severe outbreak of the coronavirus disease in the province of As-Suwayda, especially in schools and after isolation centers were filled with COVID-19 patients, schools will be shut down temporarily. Besides, both teachers and students are required to self-isolate for 15 days in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic,” as posted by Loay al-Atrash on his Facebook account. 

The announcement received with approval from the people of Dar Ira, as Enab Baladi monitored in the comments added on al-Atrash’s Facebook post. On the other hand, people voiced their anger over the post of the Syrian Ministry of Education on 30 November, in which it stated that the spread of the virus does not require the stoppage of face-to-face classes, stressing that the schools are not hotspots for the coronavirus disease.”

Suwayda 24, a local network, reported that a source inside the emirate’s house said a lawsuit was subsequently filed against Prince Loay al-Atrash because he issued a decision to close schools unnecessarily and expelled a ministerial delegation that came to visit schools in the region to “promote that everything is going ok.”

Voices of protesters reverberate strongly

The province of As-Suwayda recorded new cases of the coronavirus daily during last November. However, government authorities’ absence of the prevention measures against COVID-19 prompted people to loud their angry voices, asking for the educational facilities’ closure. 

More families have undertaken to prevent their children from going to schools. A student’s father told Enab Baladi that some parents stopped sending their children to receive education in the overcrowded traditional classes, with no less than 30 students, given the Syrian government’s recklessness to impose preventive measures. 

However, the students’ families do not have suitable alternatives for adopting remote education, as Enab Baladi monitored. People must have sufficient access to virtual reality suitable for remote education, including active internet connection and electric power, which are not available in the province. 

Teacher Maher al-Halabi told Enab Baladi that distance education requires effective educational videos prepared by specialists. In turn, students need to have a high-speed Internet connection at home to access educational videos. Teachers should encourage their students to be engaged in video materials. However, closing schools is a “necessity,” as he put it, “because the coronavirus began to outbreak, highlighting that teachers’ and students’ wellness is the most important.

According to government data, the number of people infected with the COVID-19 in the province of As-Suwayda at the beginning of this December reached 423 cases, including 15 deaths.

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