On 26 May 2022, the Latvian Constitutional Court dismissed claims of secondary school students who had argued that their right to education protected by Article 112 of the Latvian Constitution were violated because they had received distance learning after the end of the emergency situation provoked by the pandemic (case No. 2021-33-0103).
The claimants had challenged provisions of the Law on the Management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Law on Education, and the Regulation of the Council of Ministers No. 360 of 9 June 2020 on “Epidemiological safety measures for the containment of the spread of the COVID-19 infection”, which had allowed for the perpetuation of distance education after the state of emergency had ceased in April 2021. The students argued that distance learning was unlawful due to the poor quality of education received. While they recognized the need to limit their personal rights during an emergency situation in which public interests must prevail, the students complained that such a compression of their rights was unlawful once the danger had ceased.
The Court held that the contested provisions did not violate Article 112 of the Latvian Constitution, especially because (i) the education system needs to be flexible enough to respond to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic; (ii) the Council of Ministers had respected the powers conferred by the legislature; (iii) the Regulation determined the principles according to which distance learning could be introduced and the cases when face-to-face learning could be continued – it did not provide new educational methods or standards that change the education system as a whole; and (iv) possible deterioration of the quality of education during certain periods did not mean that the state did not take appropriate action to ensure the right to education, especially with regards to accessibility.