As the world is still under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, several parents and teachers in Turkey’s capital Ankara shared their feelings with Anadolu Agency on loosened coronavirus measures.

Turkey began easing weekend curfews on March 1 while continuing weeknight curfews to stem the spread of the virus. The country allows more in-person education and restaurant dining based on local risk assessments.

Didem Sagci, 35, a mother of a five-year-old boy, said the social distance rule and the use of face masks were the main points she had difficulty trying to get her son to understand.

“At first he had a hard time understanding why he could not go out [during lockdown]. He was very unhappy that he could not go to school and play with his friends. Later, when we started going out gradually, we had trouble wearing a mask and paying attention to social distance,” she said.

Sagci, who is a general practitioner, said she thinks measures on gradually loosening restrictions were “too early,” and with the uncertainty about the course of the disease in children, parents are seriously concerned.

“The restrictions currently applied are not enough. The curfew should continue for a while and places such as cafes and restaurants should not be reopened yet,” she added.

‘Unconscious behavior’

Musemma Dogan, 35, a housewife and mother of three, said her children first had trouble before distance education was set up, but later with remote learning her children — two in primary school and one in high school — adapted to the new order.

Dogan said measures had to be loosened because tradesmen “had been suffering” during the lockdown.

She went on to say that the “unconscious behavior” of some people caused the virus to spread and she hopes the disease will end quickly and everything will return to normal.

“I think distance education should have continued at least for primary school students. The education given was good in this way. I am afraid because the children are small and they cannot protect themselves properly [from the virus].”

Tighter restrictions needed

Zelal Yilmaz, 41, an engineer and mother of a five-year-old girl, said it was difficult to find someone to take care of her children as both parents were working during the lockdown.

“Not being able to be near our children was difficult both for us and for them,” she said.

Yilmaz said with loosening measures in Turkey, she is worried about the spread as well as variants of the “mutated” virus.

She proposed “tighter rules” for public transportation as it can get “very crowded.”

“I think parents should be encouraged to work from home more,” she added.

Visually impaired students

Besides parents, teachers from schools in Ankara also shared their thoughts on the gradual relaxation of COVID-19 measures in Turkey.

Ezgi Toklucu, a preschool teacher for visually impaired children, said even though she supports the idea of dropping the number of restrictions, she feels like “it is a bit early” for a complete loosening of measures.

Recalling that distance education was “quite hard” for colleagues and students, she said it was “riskier” for her to switch to face-to-face education.

“As my students can’t see, their hands are their eyes. They are constantly in need of touching and it was hard enough to reach out to them without any contact during the pandemic,” said Toklucu.

She believes a weekend curfew should have continued “a bit longer” for the number of new cases and casualties to slow further.

“In our school, we certainly wash our hands with our students, frequently ventilate our classroom, use disinfectants during class hours, while also trying to comply with the other measures determined,” she said.

Students on ‘vacation mode’

Tugce Bulut, a physical education teacher for primary school students, said the main challenge she has faced during the recent lockdown was drawing the attention of her students to the class.

“I support face-to-face education. Because of the remote education, students were in vacation mode. I find it very useful that the measures were loosened in the field of education,” she said.

Emphasizing that she is aware of the risk of switching to face-to-face education, Bulut said if teachers and cleaning staff continue to be careful about social distance and hygiene rules, “there wouldn’t be any problems regarding the disease.”

“In our school, we take students’ temperature every day, classes are always ventilated, and if a student feels sick, we do not invite that student to school in order not to put other students and ourselves at risk,” she said.

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