Closing or keeping open public schools during COVID-19 in Serbia: finding the middle way

This policy brief offers a practical, feasible action plan for how to preserve and enhance the provision of public education in deprived suburban neighbourhoods during a pandemic. Based on critical insights collected in the past year at the urban periphery of Belgrade (Serbia), the brief suggests a shift in perceiving public schools in deprived suburban neighbourhoods as perilous places for virus-spreading to instead considering them as places where the spread of the virus can be monitored and controlled. Empirical evidence shows that the government decision to close public schools in general in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening the situation of marginalised suburban communities throughout Serbia, as schools are often the only public social infrastructurein these areas. This brief calls for keeping schools in such areas open as voluntary and community-based information hubs during pandemics, offering public health information to marginalised communities.

This policy brief is a result of the ICLD Local Democracy Academy 2020