Ministry of Science and Education Republic of Croatia, March 2020. For the Ministry: minister prof. Blaženka Divjak, PhD
Since distance teaching began on 16 March, the Ministry recommended teachers to spend at least part of their working hours in school to be able to cooperate and provide assistance, in order to establish a functional distance teaching system. This was possible because at that time there were no epidemiological restrictions.
However, the situation has changed significantly after a few days, and as of 19 March a majority of teachers have been working from their homes.
Requirements for work from home include: defining what should be done, how to contact employees, expected outcomes, equipment needed by the employees in order to work from their homes etc. For teachers without a personal equipment for working from their homes or teachers lacking technical knowledge for virtual teaching, advantages for working in the schools are obvious, at least during the initial period.
Upon transferring to working at home, teachers with neither a personal equipment nor an official laptop, may borrow a computer from the school computer classroom.
Having established communication channels in a virtual environment, teachers who sign a statement that they have secured equipment and internet access in order to work from their homes, i.e. carry out distance teaching, may work from home. Other teachers may carry out distance teaching from schools since all schools have equipment and internet access. So far the Ministry has not received any information on teachers working from schools.
Teachers working with students with adjusted syllabus continue to be eligible for compensation if in a virtual classroom they can give proof of adapting syllabus to individual students.
Teachers with remedial classes and classes with gifted students included into their time-table can also have these hours recognized if in a virtual classroom they can give proof of preparing additional materials and additional work with students.
Librarians should be available in order to search for education resources and books, as well to communicate with students and teachers regularly. They should be included into the virtual staffroom, and the virtual classroom, as necessary. We emphasize that they need to assist teachers in creating contents and use of materials in terms of respecting copyright.
Non-teaching staff for students with special needs should provide assistance in creating contents for students with special needs.
School psychologists and pedagogues should advise teachers and students on class dynamics in the online environment and propose solutions and guidelines for decent behaviour in it, respond to unacceptable forms of behaviour and provide support in crisis situations.
In the first period of distance teaching, the Ministry recommended that students who use the teaching assistant service can either continue to use it either at school if the student comes to school, or at home if the student stays at home. However, the latter case required the consent of parents and the assistant. The service can be used during the period of distance learning, and no longer that the duration of the respective service at school.
If the teaching assistant was assigned to a group of students, it implies that the experts had assessed that a smaller amount of assistance should be provided to individual students. Therefore, at this point there is no need to visit all the students since the assistant does not teach the student, but provides direct support to the student during teaching.
It should be taken into consideration that the epidemiological situation has changed significantly, so visiting students’ homes should be taken with a reserve, i.e. the respective Civil Protection Headquarter should be consulted before entering private premises.