For distance education to protect lives and public health!


The Grassroots Committee for Safe Education in Turkey calls on educators, parents and students to oppose the reopening of schools for in-person instruction on February 7 and to take action to require remote learning in the context of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The ruling class is removing the remaining measures against COVID-19 in Turkey and around the world, thereby abandoning the pretext that it is trying to fight the pandemic. According to its policy, non-essential workplaces and schools must remain open regardless of how many millions of people have been infected or died.

Istanbul Medical Chamber doctors pay respects to Dr. M. Mustafa Kartal who died of COVID-19, December 11, 2020, Istanbul. [Credit: Istanbul Medical Chamber]

The growing mass opposition to this murderous policy around the world shows the way forward. In the United States, Canada, France, Austria, Britain and Greece last month, teachers and students went on strike and walked out of classrooms against the dangerous reopening of schools.

Social opposition to this massive infection policy is also growing in Turkey. On February 3, more than 100,000 tweets were posted demanding the resignation of Education Minister Mahmut Özer. In an online survey of more than 1,400 people, 93% of respondents said there should be “distance learning” in the second semester. University students are campaigning on social media for final exams to go online. Moreover, the high cost of living due to deadly pandemic policies is leading to a wave of wildcat strikes spreading across Turkey.

The Base Committee for Safe Education calls on educators, parents and students to make this opposition conscious and organized and to take action by forming base committees demanding an immediate transition to distance education from quality. They must unify their struggles with the developing movement of the working class.

The Omicron variant, which is known to strongly affect children, is spreading rapidly. The reopening of schools is not based on the educational or social needs of children, but on the ruthless pursuit of profit by the ruling class. They aim to use schools as nurseries so parents can be forced to go to work. However, all experience to date shows that schools are one of the main centers for the spread of the virus.

Health Minister Fahrettin Koca’s assertion that there is “nothing to worry about” is based on benefit calculations, not scientific facts. According to the Turkish political establishment and trade unions, which directly or indirectly support this policy, it is not a concern that more than 100,000 people are officially infected and that more than 200 die every day from a preventable disease!

After the supposedly “mild” variant of Omicron became mainstream, the number of daily cases worldwide rose from less than 1 million to more than 3 million. The global daily death toll also topped 12,000 for the first time since last May.

While the total official death toll worldwide exceeds 5.7 million, the actual death toll from the pandemic is estimated at nearly 20 million. The official death toll in Turkey has exceeded 88,000, but the real number is estimated at at least 250,000.

There is, however, no limit to the number of people the ruling class can sacrifice for capitalist profit and wealth. The massive relaxation of isolation and quarantine policies, the limitation of COVID-19 testing and the propaganda that the pandemic is coming to an end reveal that governments are committing a public health crime.

The Turkish Medical Association (TTB) and public health experts are warning that intensive care units are starting to fill up and the death toll will rise due to an unhindered spread of Omicron.

Contrary to unscientific claims by Health Minister Koca, the health catastrophe caused by COVID-19 cannot be compared to the flu. While statistics show that COVID-19 causes about 10 times more deaths, the devastating impact of the pandemic does not stop there.

In addition to the damage caused by Long COVID, studies show that children are at significantly higher risk of diabetes after COVID-19 infections. As the World Socialist Website recently explained: “There has also been an unprecedented increase in increased croup and tracheitis in children. Omicron infection of the narrow upper airways of children can lead to obstruction of their breathing and cause a characteristic barking cough.

The Turkish government does not allow vaccinations for children under 12 and also hides statistics on children. However, pediatric data published in the United States indicates what type of disaster also occurs in Turkey and other countries.

According to data from the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP), more than 3.5 million children were infected in January alone in the United States, when schools reopened with the New Year. The total number of confirmed cases in children is currently 11.4 million. In 2022, the number of children who have died from COVID-19 in the United States has risen to 72. Throughout the pandemic, a total of more than 1,100 children have died from COVID-19 in this country of 334 million. ‘inhabitants.

An American psychologist points to another devastating impact of the pandemic, which has been completely ignored by the political establishment, media and labor unions: “I would say mental health has been compromised due to ongoing collective trauma…especially those who inadvertently infected them, are likely to experience survivor’s guilt, which is a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can lead to depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties.

This disaster is not inevitable! In China, with a population of 1.4 billion, which continues to implement a science-based Zero COVID policy, the total number of deaths has been kept below 5,000. The total number of cases n has only reached 105,000 so far, despite widespread testing of millions of people.

The elimination strategy implemented in China combines public health measures such as temporary lockdowns, isolation of infected people, widespread testing and contact tracing with mass vaccination. Thanks to these measures, since May 2020, schools have remained open and social life has been largely uninterrupted in China without causing mass infections or deaths.

Such a science policy must be implemented worldwide. Appealing to establishment parties or unions that have supported or implemented mass death policies for two years is pointless. The implementation of a scientific strategy depends on the mobilization of the working class and youth, including educators, independently of all establishment parties and trade unions. To save lives, workers and young people must take matters into their own hands and fight for the following demands raised by other grassroots committees around the world, with whom we stand in solidarity:

* Close all schools and non-essential workplaces until Zero COVID cases are reached.

* Fund and implement high-quality distance education

* Financial support for all workers and small businesses affected by the temporary closures

*Financial support for parents who must stay at home with their children

*A worldwide mass vaccination programme, including children

*A rigorous mass testing and contact tracing program, establishing easily accessible testing centers in every city and town

* Reinstate 14-day isolation or quarantine for all infected or exposed, with full financial support

*High quality masking mandatory in all public places. Masks should be provided free of charge.

*A scientific education program for the population, carried out with the help of scientists and doctors

*Expropriate the wealth of billionaires to meet the needs of society and implement a global Zero COVID program

We call on all educators, parents, and students who support this perspective to reach out to us, create grassroots committees for safe education, and expand this vital fight for public health.


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