Covid-19 in schools: Schools, universities will reopen in Spain this Monday with 100% face-to-face courses | Society
An agreement was reached on Tuesday between the central government and regions of the country that the next start of the school year would normally start on January 10, despite the unprecedented levels of coronavirus infections currently recorded in Spain. Speaking after the meeting, Health Minister Carolina Darias said finding consensus “has not been easy, but it has been possible”.
Education Minister Pilar Alegría added a message of calm for families before returning to school next week: “Yes to caution, but no to alarmism”. The minister added that during the pandemic in Spain, schools “did not export cases, but imported them from other environments”.
Joan Subirats, the new universities minister, who was making his first appearance in the role in front of the press, reinforced this idea. “We have to avoid the feeling of constant change in the health situation, generate certainty and a feeling of protection,” he said. “I’m aware of this because this past semester I’ve seen it myself. Universities are ready to face this problem. The Catalan politician was teaching a course at the Autonomous University of Barcelona late last year after leaving city council.
According to the agreement reached today, all classes will be face-to-face and resume on Monday. Madrid, where there have been no additional restrictions on coronaviruses during the holiday season – meaning major events such as raves and other parties have taken place – recently pitched the idea of a home schooling for older students given the high rates of coronavirus infections. Murcia had also announced similar plans, but these two regions eventually agreed to allow the semester to start normally.
Teachers ‘unions and parents’ associations had called for a return to face-to-face teaching, with even threatening protests if schools did not reopen or if home schooling was again compulsory.
For now, elementary school classrooms will still need to be fully quarantined when a positive coronavirus case is detected. The government is studying the possibility of abolishing this protocol, but according to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, “there is still some way to go”. Wearing a mask will remain compulsory for all students aged 6 and over.
After the initial national lockdown in spring 2020 and the closure of schools, the new term began normally in September of the same year. Since then, there has been no general closure of schools and universities, although there have been sporadic quarantines of classrooms and some entire education centers due to coronavirus cases or outbreaks.
According to government forecasts, more than 90% of schoolchildren aged five to 11 will have received at least their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of January, which should slow the rise in cases after returning to school.
During the last week of the December semester, 1.3% of classes were in quarantine – the worst number since schools reopened in September 2020. This number is believed to be exceeded now with the explosive spread of the omicron variant.
As for universities and high schools, entire classes will not be sent home for isolation when positive cases are detected given that the majority of students in these groups are vaccinated, meaning quarantine is not not required under current protocols.