Teachers and professors across the Czech Republic had mere days to transition three months of physical lesson plans onto an online platform in the wake of the COVID-19 quarantine. Many schools have announced they will not return to classes in the physical school building for the rest of the semester, regardless of when the quarantine is lifted. As businesses transition their employees to work from home, the language classes usually held for employees are moving online or being cancelled altogether.
It began in February, when the Czech Ministry of Health called for all higher education institutions to mandate a quarantine and excuse absences of students and teachers returning from high-risk countries like China. In the weeks following, more restrictions were added until the blanket ban on students in schools was declared on 12 March, 2020.
Financial Relief for Freelancers
A lot of teachers enjoy the freedom of working with the živnostenský list (also called živno), or freelancing trade license, but by using it, they forgot the usual unemployment benefits. Fortunately, during such unprecedented circumstances, exceptions abound. Social and health insurance payments to the government are also suspended for these employees for the next six months- until September, 2020. Normally, freelancers pay their own social and health insurance to the government directly, as opposed to the employer paying it. As freelancers are facing unemployment, the government is looking for ways to prevent an economic collapse.
On 26 March, 2020, the Czech Republic’s Minister of Finance, Alena Schillerová, announced financial aid could be on its way for the self-employed. The proposed bill outlines a plan for those whose sole income is from freelancing. The proposed bill would be allotting 15,000 kč to živno holders, a welcome relief to those recently unemployed as schools and businesses shut their doors.
Changes to the Current System
Universities across the globe are switching to a pass/fail system for the semester because the move to the online classroom has changed the fundamentals of the classes. Traditional markers for grades, like group projects and closed-book examinations are unachievable under the current situation. International students returning home are adjusting to time zone changes as they continue to stream classes from abroad.
Online Classroom Opportunities
It appears the case for all Prague schools will be finishing the semester online. Online freelance teaching platforms, like VIPKid, can be possible supplemental income for currently underemployed Prague teachers. Most programs only require a bachelor’s degree and have flexible working hours. If you are a teacher currently laid off, the move to online teaching may enable you to continue working while you return home as travel restrictions extend around the globe.