Student forced to hitch ride home with tractor

14-year-old Johan Hedén from western Sweden was dropped off by a school transport service some eight kilometres from his home, where the driver who was out of petrol flagged down a tractor to take the boy the rest of the way.

Student forced to hitch ride home with tractor

“Neither I nor my son have any idea who the man was, but it was very kind of him to take Johan home,” the 14-year-old’s father, Mikael Hedén, told the local Borås Tidningen (BT) newspaper.

Johan was travelling home from school last week a with school transport service, which since 2010 has been operated by the local branch of taxi company Taxi Kurir.

When the vehicle was eight kilometres from his home, the taxi driver stopped by the side of the road and said he was forced to pull over as he was “out of fuel”.

The driver then started talking to a man who was scraping the road with a tractor.

The tractor driver agreed to help out the stranded teenager. He drove Johan back to his own home where he changed from the tractor to his own car and then gave the teen a lift home.

Although grateful to the unknown tractor operator, Johan’s parents are upset about the incident.

“No one knew who this man was. It could have been someone with less than pleasant intentions. Of course things like this can’t be allowed to happen,” Hedén told the paper.

Hedén added that it was not the first time there had been complaints against the taxi company:

“The children have had to wait for over an hour on many occasions, the car has been overfilled or the driver has not known the way to his destination,” he said.

According to the local authorities, a crisis meeting will be held between the taxi company and municipality staff.

“There have been too many complaints and we want to hear their version of events. We have clear demands and they must follow these,” Christer Norberg, head of transportion services in the municipality, told the paper.

The Local/rm

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Distance learning remains a ‘possibility’ for Swedish schools: Education minister

Remote learning remains a possibility, but not an obligation, for schools in Sweden as students around the country begin term this week, the Education Minister said on Wednesday.

Distance learning remains a 'possibility' for Swedish schools: Education minister
Education Minister Anna Ekström (L) and general director of the Schools Inspectorate, Helén Ängmo. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Minister Anna Ekström made the comments during a press conference in which she outlined the rules ahead of back-to-school season but did not make any new announcements.

She urged schools to be “flexible”, outlining some of the measures which have been recommended by the National Board of Education since an early stage in the pandemic.

This include changing furniture arrangements to promote distancing, staggering lesson and break times to prevent students mixing in large groups, and increasing cleaning. Many parent-teacher meetings are likely to be cancelled, she said.

Schools for under-16s have remained open throughout the pandemic, and Ekström said this decision was based on research showing children were affected by the virus to a lesser extent. “The younger the child, the more mild the symptoms,” she said.

In Sweden, only one of the almost 6,000 people to have died after testing positive for the coronavirus was aged under 10, and none of the victims have been in the 10-19 age group.

Ekström added that no occupational group linked to schools had been over-represented in Sweden's coronavirus statistics.

In addition to taking this kind of measures, heads of schools have also been given additional decision-making powers.

These include the ability to switch to remote learning, or make other changes such as adapting the timetable (including moving lessons to weekends) if necessary due to the infection situation. 

“If the situation gets worse, teaching can be moved partially or entirely to distance learning. This could happen in the whole country, individual schools, or in municipalities or regions where schools may need to close as a measure to prevent spread of infection,” Ekström said.

“The government is prepared to take measures, but we don't want to close schools.”