The Minister of Education and FP, Pilar Alegría, and the regional councilors of the field, will meet this Wednesday, August 25 in an extraordinary meeting to review the protocol agreed last May on the next school year and the measures that the different communities based on the incidence rate of Covid-19.

Alegría thus takes the witness from his predecessor in office, Isabel Celaá, who was the one who negotiated these measures with the autonomies before being relieved of the portfolio.

In this scenario, the communities are already outlining the beginning of the course , which starts in a few weeks with the teachers vaccinated , betting on presence in all educational stages , but disagreeing in some measures to avoid contagions, such as the interpersonal safety distance that is it must hold at 1.5 meters, being able to flex to 1.2 meters.

Andalusia , for example, maintains the protocols that have allowed “the success of the school year that has just ended, reinforcing the commitment to presence”, with measures such as an interpersonal distance of at least 1.5 meters by the students when they move through the center or outside the classroom.

In the Community of Madrid, the centers will remain open throughout the course , as long as the epidemiological situation allows it, the teaching will be face-to-face and the distance of at least 1.5 meters. “We have everything prepared and a meeting with the Ministry on August 25. Everything is prepared in all communities and we are open to any of their proposals and those of the Government of Spain,” said the counselor, Enrique Ossorio.

In the Basque Country , the protocols for returning to class in September have already been defined and “various scenarios have been worked on to see which is the most appropriate to apply” when the course begins. As indicated by the regional government, the teachers are vaccinated and the objective is that the course begins “with as many percentage as possible” of students over 12 years vaccinated.

Catalonia does not contemplate any change with respect to the May document , which contained two main ideas : the use of a mask in Primary is reviewed (for older students it is maintained and for the youngest students it will continue without being mandatory) and the safety distance is eliminated in inside the bubble group. Changes are not ruled out if the epidemiological situation requires it.

The course in Cantabria will start in September with a protocol “quite similar” to the previous one . The Minister of Education, Marina Lombó, has said that no changes are foreseen because “strict” measures have been adopted at the beginning, which is expected to be able to relax. In any case, he has pointed out that if any measure is agreed upon, the community will take it into account.

From Navarra , a protocol proposal was advanced last week that ensures a face-to-face educational modality , but creates a flexible procedure that “will guarantee a return to normality if epidemiological data allow it.” The protocol establishes that the course will begin with a continuous day in the mornings in Infant and Primary, ESO, Baccalaureate and FP in all public and subsidized centers. In addition, it will maintain the educational reinforcements applied this year, maintaining the ratio of 20 schoolchildren in Infant.

Extremadura will also continue betting the next course for the “maximum presence” in all teachings, a model that was already applied “successfully” last year and that the region will explain at the Education Sector Conference. Thus, Extremadura will attend the meeting with the beginning of the organized school year, to publicize the Extremadura model and “open to reaching new agreements”.

Also the Region of Murcia will guarantee “a scenario of full attendance at all levels and educational stages” at the beginning of the course. In this autonomy, the Infant and Primary groups “will be organized as stable coexistence groups”, while in Secondary “the flexible distance of 1.2 meters will be applied.” The protocol implies the continuity of the measures adopted last year, which allowed “no educational center to be closed and only infant classrooms, and includes the possibility of making measures more flexible depending on the evolution of the health situation.”

In Asturias , the government has confirmed that there will be 100% face-to-face teaching at all educational levels and that it is hoped that the next course will be “as normalized as possible”, since 12-year-old children are already being vaccinated, and it is likely that at the beginning of the course everyone is immunized.

Regarding the Valencian Community , the course will start with 5,000 extra teachers who will be incorporated into the classrooms with the aim that the attention is “more individualized” through unfolding and co-teaching.

The course will begin in La Rioja with the expectation that the centers will be open throughout the year . As a novelty, on the first day of class, students will receive Health Education to enable proper hand and respiratory hygiene, and proper use of the mask.

Castilla y León does not see “urgent” rethinking the return to the classroom in September because security measures are “sufficient” , despite the fact that the fifth wave has triggered the incidence in the 12 to 19-year-old group. However, it places this decision on what is adopted at the August 25 meeting. A distance of at least 1.5 meters will be maintained and a mask will be mandatory from 6 years of age.

Galicia has a protocol based on the agreements reached in May and that the Ministry made mandatory with a Declaration of Coordinated Actions on June 2. Thus, the ‘bubble groups’ for Primary and Infant schools are maintained and the distance of 1.2 meters – previously, it was 1.5 – in the case of Secondary. During the meeting, the Minister of Education, Román Rodríguez, has advanced that he will ask the Government to “provide additional funds” to “face the costs of the system.”

The students of the Aragonese educational centers will attend the classrooms in person and spaces such as libraries and materials for common use will be recovered . The mandatory use of masks will be kept indoors from the age of 6 and outdoors, except for sports, school games and physical education classes.

In the Canary Islands, the teaching staff will be reinforced and security measures will continue to be applied against COVID this year: the use of a mask and the maintenance of the safety distance will be mandatory and specific plans will be implemented for transport, school canteens and Physical Education.

Bet on presence
For her part, the Minister of Education is committed to being present at all stages next year and rules out imposing on teachers the obligation to get vaccinated due to the high percentage of teachers who have done so voluntarily. “Almost all of them have already done it voluntarily; teachers and citizens are giving an image of total responsibility in the vaccination process,” said Alegría in statements to Cadena Ser collected by Europa Press.

In relation to the number of students in the classrooms , the minister recalled the effort made last year to hire teaching staff due to the reduction in educational ratios. Central government and autonomous communities agreed in May to recover the pre-pandemic ratios for September, although the Ministry asked the autonomous governments to keep the teaching staff that was hired as reinforcement.

By Rak Esh

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