Hungarian teachers’ opinion on the reopening of schools

23 April 2021

The COVID 19 outbreak is a public health crisis quite different than anything Europe has faced for many years. As education personnel and their trade unions grapple with the outbreak, we are supporting and informing member organisations in any way we can.

© The Hungarian Teachers' Union

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SEH (the Hungarian Teachers' Union), carried out, with the help of a research company, a public opinion poll of Hungarian teachers on the reopening of schools in spring 2021. The main goal of this research was to find out the opinion of Hungarian teachers and other education personnel regarding the best scenario for a safe reopening of schools for public education staff and students in Spring 2021. The results of this poll were presented at the Hungarian government meeting.

According to the research’s findings, the overwhelming majority of teachers (87%) did not support the planned reopening of Hungarian educational institutions on April 19, while 7 percent agreed with it. Most of the respondents (49%) agreed with the statement, that “Educational institutions should reopen, if the number of infected people weekly is less than 100 in 100 000 residents of the country”. Teachers do not fully loathe the thought of reopening: although 46 percent of teachers reject the idea of high schools going back to in-person education, 31 percent believed that high schools should open if Hungary’s coronavirus curve starts to flatten, and society reaches the ideal rate of vaccination.

There is no doubt that the plan of reopening on April 19 was generally rejected among Hungarian teachers. However, they are divided on the possible time of reopening and the conditions of going back to face-to-face teaching (e. g. what kind of epidemiological and societal conditions are needed), as most of the educators could not decide between particular alternatives, such as reopening in the future, gradual reopening or full rejection of reopening.

More than half of the respondents (54%) stated that, in case of reopening at the end of April, they would return to their workplace and would hold their classes; while 21% of teachers mentioned that they would prefer to continue digital education. The different opinions of teachers on face-to-face teaching is affected by the type of educational institution: in institutions where digital learning is harder to pursue (e. g. due to the age of students, the necessity of presence), the ratio of teachers who would like to continue to teach in-person was higher.

According to the survey, the perceived safety of the teachers would be eminently low in case they were required to return to in-person education: 74% of the teachers would feel rather or very unsafe. The perceived safety of educators is mainly influenced by whether they have been vaccinated or not.

ETUCE continues to support its member organisations, many of whom are likely to face similar struggles in ensuring the health and safety of their affiliates. ETUCE stands with its member organisations in their demands for healthy and safe working conditions in the education sector and the recovery of this essential profession beyond the pandemic. We work together for healthy, safe, and inclusive schools, in line with the ETUCE statement “The Road to Recovery from the COVID-19 Crisis.

The results of the Survey “Teachers on reopening schools” can be found here