The uncertainty of what going back to school this year will mean in health terms continues to cause concern to parents and school workers, who have had to design protocols for such an anomalous situation as teaching in the middle of a pandemic. We have asked unions and those responsible for schools and institutes questions such as whether the twin brothers will continue to be separated into different classes this year to minimize the risks, whether a contagion will cause a class to be quarantined even if teachers and students wear masks or how it goes to ensure safety in physical education classes.
Questions and answers about the start of the course
What if there is a positive in a class?
As a general rule, attempts are being made to create “bubble groups” among kindergarten and elementary school children and also with stable coexistence, as far as possible, among the oldest. In case of positive within a class, despite the fact that those over 6 years old must wear a mask, there will be a quarantine of the entire group for fourteen days.
According to the protocol signed between Health and the autonomous communities, if the confirmed case belongs to a class that is not organized as a stable coexistence group, any student who has shared space with the confirmed case at a distance of less than two meters around for more than fifteen minutes unless it can be assured “that the mask has been used properly”. The evaluation of the proper use of the mask will be carried out by the teacher / tutor of the class or by the person who has been designated as the COVID-19 responsible at the center.
What has been done with the twin brothers, who are usually separated?
In each bubble group there would be a maximum of 20 students and a tutor. Its members could play and socialize “without having to maintain strict interpersonal distance.” In most of the centers, this course has exceptionally been brought together in the same class or “bubble” with twins or twins, who are normally preferred to separate. “The protocols adopted by the autonomous communities and the ministries involved do not include such specific aspects, it has depended on each center,” warns, however, the head of Public Education at UGT, Marisa Vico. In the case of the Institute of San Sebastián de los Reyes Juan de Mairena they have been joined in a single class at the request of the parents, explains their deputy head of studies, Elena Muñoz.
What happens if you have several children in a center and one of them has symptoms or must go into quarantine?
The previous measure referring to twins makes sense, among other things, to avoid doubling the chances of positive quarantine in the same home. But there are cases in which it is not possible for the siblings to be in the same class, since they have different ages.
In the event that a student remains in isolation due to symptoms compatible with COVID, the rest of his siblings must also do so, says the head of Education at CSIF, Mario Gutiérrez. “The protocols are disparate between the communities, but Health makes it clear that direct contacts should be isolated, and the brothers are. This highlights the absurdity of bubble groups in a school,” he says, referring to the scarce isolation which they actually enjoy.
In the last protocol sent by the Community of Madrid to the educational centers, it is also stated that in the event of a suspicion of COVID, and until a PCR is carried out, “the siblings of the suspected case who are schooled there will also remain at home. center until the results of the tests, as they are cohabiting family contacts “. For the rest, “until obtaining the diagnostic result that confirms the case, no action will be indicated on close school contacts and the teaching activity will continue in a normal way, taking measures of prevention and hygiene to the extreme.” If the student tests positive, her entire coexistence group or bubble should be isolated for 14 days from the last contact with the confirmed case.
Should the teacher also be quarantined? What happens when one tests positive?
The Ministry of Health clarifies that teachers and students are part of the same bubble. If one of them tests positive, therefore, the rest are considered contact, which implies a 14-day quarantine if there is a case of coronavirus.
For its part, according to the protocol of the Community of Madrid, close contact is considered (and therefore susceptible to isolation if there is a nearby COVID case) “any professional from the educational center, teacher or other worker, who has shared space with a confirmed case at a distance of less than 2 meters from the case without a mask for more than 15 minutes “.
They add that “the assessment of the exposure of the personnel working in the center will be carried out based on the specific risk assessment of each case, (…) so that the consideration of close contact will be assessed based on the adequacy and follow-up of the prevention measures adopted with the maintenance of physical distance and use of masks and the activities carried out. In addition, in the case of teachers, it will be taken into account in the evaluation that they carry out an essential activity “.
What happens when the teacher teaches several groups and is positive for COVID?
The secretary of the La Moleta Early Childhood and Primary Education Center, in Vall d’Uixó, María Martínez Torres, affirms that in her case, all specialist teachers (for example in Music or English, who go through different groups) keep distance from al less than five feet with the students, except the tutors assigned to each bubble group. A positive among the first would not generate the isolation of the children, but if they were their tutors, she understands.
On this matter, according to the head of UGT, “there are issues that will be resolved on the fly” and this could be one of them. In any case, she remarks that her union claims that the COVID coordinator of each center is not a teacher but health personnel. “A teacher does not have to have that profile, he is not a technician in occupational risk prevention.”
As for the contacts between teachers, in the Vall d’Uixó center they will solve it with online cloisters and pedagogical coordination meetings while maintaining distances.
How are bubble groups guaranteed in the yard?
For exits to the patio, recesses are escalated, and in some centers spaces have been differentiated with painting or with fences and signs. But, as the head of CSIF points out, “most of the centers do not have enough space in their facilities” to do so. Both for the exit to the patio and for the entrance and exit of the center, the IES Juan de Mairena has established different entry and exit zones and itineraries. “Any movement of the students is thought to minimize contacts”, they explain.
How are physical education classes going to be done?
The centers and teachers have designed sessions in which no or minimal material is used, which is disinfected between the different sessions. “We have eliminated the toilet bag and the change of shirt in the changing rooms. This year they are replaced by washes with wet wipes, undoubtedly worse for the environment,” says the head of the Valencian center. Other centers have chosen to eliminate contact sports. “This first quarter will be used to give theoretical content or do activities that do not involve direct contact, they explain at the IES in San Sebastián de los Reyes.