Polish schools switch to online learning as Omicron wave rises

Przemysław Czarnek presented the new regulation at a day's notice, on Tuesday evening, after meeting with the chief sanitary inspector, Krzysztof Saczka. Tomasz Gzell/PAP

School students aged 11 and over will start home learning from Thursday, and will not come back to school until February 28, the education minister has said.

Przemysław Czarnek presented the new regulation at a day's notice, on Tuesday evening, after meeting with the chief sanitary inspector, Krzysztof Saczka.

"Heeding the appeals of sanitary services and having analysed yesterday's and today's data, we have had to make a decision to limit school learning and to impose home learning until the end of the winter break," Czarnek said.

The winter break ends on February 27.

Younger pupils and pre-school children will continue learning in schools and kindergartens, Czarnek said.

Krzysztof Saczka said that "we are now at the beginning of a rising wave of infections."

"Over the past week we have observed a rapid increase of school pockets (of the disease - PAP) and the number of people covered by epidemiological proceedings in these pockets," Saczka said.

"Based on these data we have signalled a very high epidemic risk," the inspector continued.

Saczka also said that the most recent data, which, however, are at least one week old, put the share of Omicron cases in registered infections at 37.6 percent. "Realistically, we are estimating it may be about 50 percent, with a few percentage points more every day."

Poland has been struggling to contain the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, now dominated by the highly-infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, but daily infections have spiked to well over 30,000 since last week and are set to rise even higher.