Updated on 20.05.2020.
In view of the global situation caused by Covid-19 and the potential risks in Latvia, an emergency situation is announced in the country from 12 March to 9 June.
The end of the school / academic year
General education institutions and vocational education and training institutions will not be reopened this school year. The academic year will end on 29 May for grades 1-8, on 12 June for grade 9 and on July 7 for grade 12.
An educational institution may take a decision regarding on-site preparation for pre-school children aged 5-6 for obtaining of basic education. Learning may as well be performed remotely.
The school year might be extended for those higher education institutions where remote examination is not possible and it requires on-site presence.
Teaching and learning remotely
In order to limit the spread of the virus, a number of precautions have been taken during this period, including remote learning in all schools, which has been introduced on 13 March.
Trainings, competitions and rehearsals held within the framework of cultural, sports and interest-related education programmes have to be discontinued during the period of the emergency situation.
Pre-schools have been closed, only on-duty groups are organised for those children, whose parents cannot provide other option. In order to attend pre-school educational institutions, parents have to submit a written statement to the institution every week that the child and family have neither visited the countries affected by Covid-19 nor have been in contact with a virus-affected person.
Digital tools for learning online
There are several tools which are used during the period of distance learning. For example, E-klase (E-class) is the most widely used platform to access all important information, including guidelines for teachers for providing distance learning. Other platforms widely used are Uzdevumi.lv and Soma.lv, allowing to exercise online and to receive immediate feedback.
Educational TV channel Tava Klase (Your Class) for pupils has been created in two weeks and is on air since 6 April. It supports pupils, parents and teachers in the implementation of distance learning for 1st to 6th and upper grade pupils. More than 70 teachers are involved in the project, and a volunteering Parents Group is taking part in the project as well.
At the higher education level and in vocational education & training, distance learning is provided in a decentralized way. Institutions provide such remote learning opportunities to their students as live online classes, seminars, discussion forums, and consultations via Skype, Webex, MS Teams, Zoom and other online tools, pre-recorded lectures, learning materials for independent studies, and feedback on submitted exercises and tasks.
The period of examinations is postponed
A decision to postpone, perform remotely or cancel examinations will be taken on the basis of the development of the epidemiological situation and on the advice of experts from the Ministry of Health, assessing public health and safety above all other considerations.
In vocational education, the issue of examinations and tests is currently being discussed with partners, teachers, universities and other stakeholders. In the field of vocational training, several scenarios have been developed.
Higher education institutions currently plan to complete their studies on time in accordance with their plans. Depending on the developments of the crisis and the extension of the emergency decision, it is likely that the annual extension of studies will be required in study programmes with specific requirements for the final-exams (final year students) which cannot be carried out remotely.
Support for foreign students
Currently, the number of both incoming and outgoing Erasmus+ students has shrunk. There are 590 foreign students staying in Latvia and 558 Latvian students studying abroad. The majority of students are continuing their mobility period learning online either in their respective home countries or in their mobility destination countries.
Ministry of Welfare in co-operation with municipalities has offered support for incoming students currently staying in Latvia. Type and amount of support differ based on each municipality. NGO “Safe House” has gathered information on support options.
The situation is assed constantly
In order to assess the situation more quickly and effectively, as well as to plan and implement improvements in the distance learning process, the Ministry together with the educational technology company Edurio is constantly carrying out surveys on the implementation of distance learning in the emergency situation. Over 60 000 respondents — teachers, pupils, parents, and school headmasters (99.6% of schools) —have been surveyed so far.