“The virus behaves unpredictably, but after two years of the pandemic, we should have learned something.” The education unions and the families – the main victims of a sixth wave that has hit the schools – ask the Government and the autonomies for a “deep reflection” about what is happening in the classrooms. His war cry remains the same as always: Attendance, yes. But safe attendance.
There are more than 102,233 positive students in covid or in preventive quarantine. And 19,335 teachers in the same situation (2.6%)
“There are excessive bureaucratic problems to hire substitute teachers. Carbon dioxide meters are not sufficiently implemented, not all teachers have FFP2 masks at their disposal. In many centers we don’t have partitions either, nor can we guarantee the separation of spaces,” he criticizes. Paco Venzalá, president of the independent union of teachers Anpe. The CCOO Teaching Federation and the Spanish Confederation of Associations of Parents and Mothers of Students (Ceapa) also demand measures to curb the impact of covid in classes: tests on close contacts, rapid protocols to hire substitute teachers and conciliation measures employment for parents of children in quarantine.
The number of confined classrooms throughout Spain amounts to 98, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Education (which does not include Madrid, Asturias or the Balearic Islands). It remains a low number in percentage terms (0.03%) but implies a true yincana both in educational centers and in the families of students. Right now there are more than 102,233 positive students in covid or in preventive quarantine. Y 19,335 teachers in the same situation (2.6%). The closure of classrooms basically affects children (not vaccinated) and primary (where only 46% have the first dose).
“There are no family policies. Everything is based on self-care, self-diagnosis and self-management. The protocols are not adapted to the current situation. You have to go to work even though your son is confined”
“We don’t know if the curve of the epidemic will bend tomorrow or next week. What we do know is that educational centers are experiencing brutal tension. The management of the schools are putting up with this situation,” he explains. Francisco García, general secretary of the CCOO Education Federation. In his opinion, despite the vaccination, the state and regional authorities should have maintained the same anticovid measures as last year for this school year: reinforcement teachers and small groups. “The criteria for confining classes have been relaxed. Now they are done with five cases, and that implies that the virus is triggered. It cannot be that the directors contact Public Health to see what health protocol to undertake and that Public Health takes three days to answer, “he criticizes.
“It cannot be that Public Health takes three days to answer the directors of schools”
The change in protocol, two days before classes start after the Christmas holidays, “has not helped much to clear up doubts about how to act,” insists the head of the Anpe teachers’ union, who rails against “the excessive bureaucracy” that exists to do to replace teachers who are on leave due to covid. “We have always defended attendance. But the conditions have to be met. In any administration office you have screens, high-protection masks and separate spaces. It is something that does not happen in schools. Why do the rest of the public workers have measures that we do not have?
La yincana familiar
That your child becomes infected or that their entire class is quarantined is a real headache for families, who continue without measures of conciliation. Telecommuting -if possible and the company approves it- is an option, but the protocols say that a vaccinated person can continue to lead a normal life (including going to work) despite being in close contact. “There are no family policies. Everything is based on self-care, self-diagnosis and self-management. The protocols are not adapted to the current situation. You have to go to work even though your child is confined. Why don’t you count on us to establish the protocols?”, criticizes Mari Carmen Morillas, Vice President of Ceapa. Morillas asks for free tests for close contacts and to increase the socio-emotional attention of the students. “We need measures at school to combat the anxiety and stress of our children. It is urgent”, he concludes.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.