The Ministry of Health has presented this Thursday, in a meeting with the Ministry of Education, Territorial Policy, and with all the regional councils of the branches, a document, which has been advanced by the newspaper La Razón, in which they detail the protocol to follow if a positive case is detected in a school, less than two weeks after returning to school. It is a separate guide, different from the document that specifies the safety protocol in the classrooms to avoid contagion and that includes masks from 6 years of age, temperature controls and reallocation of spaces. The communities will have to adapt all the instructions in their regulations. The guide considers an “outbreak” from the fact that two cases are detected in a school or institute, in other contexts it is from three – except in homes for the elderly, that just one is enough.
The guide for detecting and acting on cases starts from the premise that a positive or close contact of a positive person must keep home isolation and that no one, not students, teachers, or technical personnel, should go to the center with symptoms, that is , with fever or cough. It indicates that, until there is a positive PCR, the classes will continue as normal: that is, the classmates and the teacher of the group, which in principle will be “stable coexistence” and their number will depend on the ratio of each community, will continue with the course until confirming or not the case. If the PCR confirms the COVID-19 infection, a close contact study will have to be carried out, which will also depend on whether the hygienic measures have been followed correctly, but all members of the stable coexistence group will be considered.
The main objective of the Health document is not to have to close the centers this course. After 6 months with all the minors without classes, in their introduction, they recognize that “the closure of educational centers as a measure to control transmission has proven to be ineffective and have a negative impact on the level of development and education of the population in learning stage “. For this reason, “at the present time, various measures have been implemented to control the transmission of the virus to allow the safest possible start of the school year.” It establishes three levels of “outbreak”: controlled or sporadic, when the cases –from two– are in the same group; complex, with transmission chains that are not well identified –among various groups–, which could imply the closure of some classes and the intensification of measures; and uncontrolled community transmission. Only in this last scenario can it be considered “in the last instance” to close the center temporarily, after evaluating the public health services of the community.
The guide attaches an annex with the information to be given to parents and legal guardians in the event that there is a positive in the center of the minor in their care. “In the case of being in close contact, it is possible that symptoms compatible with COVID-19 may appear in the next few days, before which they must remain in isolation and contact their health center or the reference telephone number of the autonomous community by phone” , they are explained about the 14-day preventive quarantines. There is an exception that is contemplated for students: if they have had “a documented previous infection with a positive PCR in the previous 6 months”, for presumption of temporary immunity to COVID-19. “The rest of the educational community can continue to go to the center, taking extreme precautionary measures and monitoring the appearance of symptoms compatible with COVID-19. If any person has conditions of special vulnerability to COVID-198, they can go to the center
The document elaborates a brief protocol if a minor or a professional develops symptoms while inside: they must be transferred to a space accompanied by a teacher with “adequate” personal protection equipment: a surgical mask or, if the suspect is a minor under 6 years old, who would not wear a mask, an FFP2 without a valve. As several communities had already announced, the figure of a “COVID-19 coordinator” is incorporated, a professional responsible for communicating cases and being an interlocutor with the health services.