September 29, 2020

The emotion, the mobilizations and the fear of COVID have marked the return to the classrooms this Monday


At the door of an institute in Vitoria, two colleagues have seen each other for the first time in months. Both, many meters apart, have started running with open arms. However, before the pending hug they have realized the circumstances surrounding the return to school this year. They have opted for a cold elbow bump. Starting from this Monday, up to 372,000 Basque students will be joining the classrooms – half in the public class, the other half in the concerted one – amidst the uncertainty and discovering new protocols. “I am convinced that, if the rules are respected, they will be safer inside than outside the schools”, predicts a director.

Pediatricians plan a school year "intermittent" due to quarantines for COVID positives

Pediatricians foresee an “intermittent” school year due to COVID-positive quarantines

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More than eight million students are returning to classrooms across Spain these days amid uncertainty and security measures to prevent COVID-19 infections. This Monday it was the turn of the students from Aragon, the Basque Country, La Rioja, Cantabria and the Valencian Community. Staggered entrances, temperature measurements, masks, and also excitement among the students who have been reunited after months of confinement and a “new normal” due to the coronavirus pandemic. In Santoña (Cantabria), a municipality in which a sanitary cordon was lifted last Wednesday, only 5% of the students have attended public centers, 12% if the concerted is added. Classes in Navarra they started already last week.

And how are the little ones living it? Alejandro, Lucas and Iker are three 5th grade students who attended their first class in times of COVID-19 at Marianistas de Vitoria at 9.15 this Monday. Wearing masks, in single file and with set times for each class to enter the school in a staggered manner, they have left their parents at the door – they are prohibited from entering the school grounds – and have been passing one by one until they are in the yard in front of a blue sign that indicated the number and letter of his class. Once there, a tutor has guided the boys and girls to their classroom. Although this first day they have not taken the temperature of the children in a large tent already installed, apparently it will be done from the second day.

“It was a bit of a mess, we arrived and our names were on the tables, we sat apart and we cannot share the material,” says Alejandro. The first day, of just 45 minutes, consisted of an explanation about the measures that the school will take to avoid the spread of coronavirus in the classrooms.

Mobilizations in Aragon

On the other hand, more than 10,500 students from 1st grade and 2-year-old classrooms join the school in Aragon. The president of the community, Javier Lambán, has appealed to the responsibility of families. The return will be staggered and new courses will be added every day until September 16, when all attend.

This beginning of the course is marked by complaints from several centers due to the lack of conditioned spaces or means, such as is the case from CPI Soledad Puértolas de Zaragoza whose students will start classes at another nearby center. In the María Zambrano CEIP in Zaragoza they mobilize while the barracks are still unfinished, as is the case at the Florián Rey de La Almunia school in Doña Godina due to a shortage of material and human resources or at the Gil Tarín de La Muela school, where more than one Hundreds of parents have protested at the Education headquarters because in the center they are “like canned sardines.”

In Huesca, two and three-year-old children have been the first to step into the classrooms, following the signs and directions of the teachers, wearing screens and masks. At the Santa Rosa School they have been divided into two shifts on this first day, at 09:00 and 10:30, tomorrow they will do it as usual.

In Teruel the return to school has been lived normally. The Local Police has supervised the entrances and exits and has taken the opportunity to study which streets would be necessary to cut to guarantee the safety distance between parents, mothers and schoolchildren during peak hours. The mayor of Teruel, Emma Buj, has acknowledged that the cuts of different streets in the vicinity of the city’s schools will cause inconvenience, but has asked drivers for patience and has argued that they are “exceptional measures” to “guarantee the safety ”of schoolchildren. “We are in a health crisis and we all have to collaborate,” he said.

Valencia Community, illusion and uncertainty

With more certainties that you doubt More than 794,000 Valencian students return to classrooms this Monday in an atypical course, in which the Ministry of Education has been working for months in coordination with teachers and families. Among other extraordinary measures adopted, the hiring of 4,374 new teachers for Primary and Secondary.

The children have returned, with the mask on –and a spare one in the backpack– and keeping all the security measures with “great desire” and without notable problems as a general rule. 99.8% of the 1,847 Valencian public and subsidized educational centers have opened their doors “normally”. The families highlighted the “illusion” and “excitement” of the children to see their friends again, with whom they have not shared a classroom for six months, and the “uncertainty” of the mothers and fathers to know what is going to happen in the days and weeks ahead, which were nonetheless calm.

The director of the Ceip Mare Nostrum de València, in statements to Europa Press, acknowledged that it cannot be said that risk does not exist, “but we will try to minimize it to the maximum”, while claiming presence as an “essential” measure: ” In this time we have realized the shortcomings of not being in contact with the students “.

Santoña, only 12% return to class

The return to school in Santoña (Cantabria), a municipality in which a sanitary cordon was lifted last Wednesday due to the advance of the pandemic, has been marked by a significant absenteeism Among the Infant and Primary students that began this Monday, as in the rest of Cantabria, face-to-face classes. Only 31 of the 796 boys and girls enrolled as of September 2 attended the classrooms in the two public centers in the town, the CEIP Macías Picavea and the CEIP Juan de la Cosa, according to data provided by the Ministry of Education .

In addition, at the Sagrado Corazón, a concerted school, 88 of the 169 students have attended, according to this same department. Thus, less than 4% have attended classes in public schools and, in total, counting the students of the subsidized school, the percentage rises to 12%.

(With information from Íker Rioja, Maialen Ferreira, Candela Canales, Diego Saz, Miguel Giménez and Rubén Alonso)

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