Swedish student settles bullying with city

A student in central Sweden has received 70,000 ($10,465) kronor in compensation for being subjected to bullying in school.

A junior high school student in Tidaholm, central Sweden, will receive 70,000 kronor ($10,465) in damages from the city after coming to a settlement with Sweden's Discrimination Ombudsman (Diskrimineringsombudsmannen – DO).

The boy was bullied by another student, and the city agreed that not enough had been done to put a stop to the antagonizing. 

The boy endured discrimination based on his race, as well as physical  harassment during his entire time at the school. Despite explaining the situation for several teachers, who in turn took up the issue with the principal, little was done to put a stop to the bullying.

As the responsible authority for the school, Tidaholm city has agreed that they had neglected their duties.  DO originally sued the city for 100,000 kronor ($14,950), but the case was settled before reaching court. 

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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.”