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SCHOOLS

Norwegian town starts school Christmas holidays early due to Covid cases 

Schools in western Norway town Ålesund will break up earlier for Christmas as the municipality manages a high number of Covid-19 cases. The Norwegian education minister has also outlined how other schools can follow suit. 

Pictured is Ålesund.
Schools in Ålesund will break up for the Christmas holidays earlier due to staff absences and Covid-19 problems. Pictured is the city on Norway's west coast. Photo by Jesse De Backer on Unsplash

Ålesund Municipality’s crisis management services have given schools the green light to break up earlier for the Christmas holidays if they need to. 

The municipality’s crisis services made the decision due to schools struggling with Covid-19 outbreaks and staff absences. 

“We have had a very demanding situation with both coronavirus and a lot of sickness absence among employees, with respiratory disease and sick children,” municipal manager Bjørm Ivar Rødal told public broadcaster NRK

Schools in the city will break up on December 17th. They were due to break up around the 22nd. 

Nationally, Minister of Education Tonje Brenna, said that schools were free to start the holidays earlier but would need to make up for the lost days later on. 

“The municipality can change its school dates so that the last day before Christmas is earlier than originally decided, but then they will have to catch up on the days during the spring,” Brenna told newspaper VG

READ ALSO: What are Norway’s Covid rules this Christmas? 

The education minister also reminded schools that if they were to break up early, they would need to consider the impact on parents who may have to be at home with their children. 

“If the municipalities do change the school term dates, they must be aware that this means that parents must be home from work with children who can not be alone at home,” Brenna warned. 

The Ålesund city said it would continue to provide before and after school activities (termed SFO in Norwegian) for parents and children that need them. 

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STRIKES

Teachers in Norway likely to strike over wage negotiations

School teachers in Norway could be taken out on strike in two weeks as unions representing education professionals are unhappy with the proposed wage rises offered by the state. 

Teachers in Norway likely to strike over wage negotiations

A major strike was averted on Tuesday when the municipal sector agreed on a wage rise of 3.84 percent, after mediation talks went into overtime. 

However, teachers could still be taken out on strike as education unions are unhappy with the state’s offer, with industrial action potentially beginning as early as two weeks from now. 

“The teachers have come out (of the settlement) poorly, we were the wage losers last year, KS (the employer organisation for the public sector) made sure of that. Now they are setting up a scheme that will ensure teachers will have poorer wage growth,” Stefan Handal, negotiator for Unio and leader of the Education Association (Utdanningsforbundet), told public broadcaster NRK

Handal added that strikes in the education sector would commence two weeks from now.

READ ALSO:  What is a Norwegian collective bargaining agreement?

Technically, potential strikes would have to be discussed by the central board at Unio. However, Newswire NTB reports that it has been informed that it is unlikely that a meeting of the central board would lead to strikes being averted. 

The National Association of Schools has also announced it would strike in 14 days. Lecturers are also unhappy with the state’s proposal, and the central board of the Norwegian Lecturers’ Association would meet to discuss the next steps. 

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