During September 2020, the People’s Advocate institution was notified by several individuals through petitions with similar content, which brought criticism regarding certain measures established by the Joint Order no. 5487/2020 of the Minister of Education and Research, Cristina Monica Anisie, and of the Minister of Health, Nelu Tătaru, for approving the measures for organizing the activity within the educational units / institutions in epidemiological safety conditions for the prevention of SARS-CoV-2 virus infections,
Some of the measures referred to by the petitioners were the compulsory wearing of the protective mask by primary, secondary and high school students in classrooms, while traveling through the school and during break between classes (when students are both indoor and outdoor) and, respectively, the mandatory maintenance of a physical distance of 1 meter between students both during classes and during breaks.
The petitioners considered that these measures have harmful effects on the physical and mental health of their children and affect both the learning process of students, by preventing them from concentrating on classes, and their need to socialize with their schoolmates.
The notified aspects were analyzed in the context of the provisions of Art. 32 and of Art. 34 of the Romanian Constitution on the right to education and, respectively, the right to health.
In order to support the petitioners, we emphasize the following:
Joint Order no. 5487/2020 regulates the measures regarding the means of prevention and control of infection with SARS-CoV-2 virus that will be applied in the educational units / institutions, in order to ensure the right to education and the right to health, for the primary beneficiaries of the right to education, students and staff in the national education system.
This joint order was adopted on the basis of Emergency Ordinance no. 141/2020 on the establishment of measures for the proper functioning of the education system and for amending and supplementing the National Education Law no. 1/2011.
According to Annex no. 1A to the Guide on sanitary and protection measures in pre-university education units during the COVID-19 pandemic, annex entitled “Scenarios for the operation of pre-university education units or institutions”, wearing a protective mask and keeping a physical distance of 1 m between students both during classes and during breaks are mandatory for both students and teachers in preschool, primary, secondary and high school.
The Ombudsperson considers that the issues for which the petitioners have requested the support of our institution are legally grounded and useful measures in terms of efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic aimed at protecting children, teachers and their families from the risk of infection with the new coronavirus, so that the intervention of the People’s Advocate institution is not required.
Persons who consider that such measures have been affected by their fundamental rights and freedoms may apply to the competent court, which will assess the legality of the provisions of Joint Order no. 5487/2020 issued by the Minister of Education and Research and the Minister of Health.