All students aged over 6 will have to wear face masks at all times when they start classes across Spain during September, to combat potential infections of Coronavirus (Covid-19) at schools.
This is just one of the ‘protocol measures’ agreed between the Spanish government and all the regional authorities, as part of an overall agreement to start the 2020-2021 academic year, and ‘to achieve the highest degree of presence possible and a safe return to the classroom’.
It was announced on Thursday following a recent online conference on education and health.
The full agreement encompasses 29 measures and 5 recommendations – to be applied by the ‘competent administrations in educational centres’ in each region of Spain, with the objective of ‘building a model of co-governance that generates trust in the educational community’.
At a press conference on Thursday, Spain’s Education Minister Isabel Celaá, the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, and the Minister of Territorial Policy, Carolina Darias, presented the key measures in the agreement.
Overall, the Spanish government and regional authorities have agreed that pupils should be physically present at school, with teaching activity held face-to-face and not online, and for all levels and stages of the educational system.
These are all the key measures & recommendations:
- Face masks will be compulsory in general at school (in class or not) from the age of six, and regardless of whether social distancing of 1.5 metres can be respected.
- Face masks will also be compulsory when using school transport from the age of six. It is also recommended that children aged between 3-5 wear face masks on school transport. Each child should be assigned a fixed seat on a school bus.
- The physical distance between pupils should be 1.5 metres.
- The temperature of each pupil will be taken prior to each teaching day, both for students and teachers. In the event that the temperature is taken at the educational centre, then the school will arrange the way to carry it out, but always avoiding crowds and ensuring the maintenance of the minimum social distance.
- Students should wash their hands ‘frequently and meticulously’ – at least five times a day.
- Classrooms should be aired frequently, before and after each class, during recess and at the end of the day – at least for 10-15 minutes. If possible, classroom windows should be left open throughout the school day.
- Cleaning at schools should be increased, especially in the washrooms and in other areas frequently used.
- Each educational centre should have a person responsible for all matters related to Covid-19, from ensuring that the protocols are met and to also be ready to take action in the event of infections.
- Stable ‘co-existence groups’ should be organised, the so-called ‘bubble groups’, in order to limit contact with other classes. These groups should be promoted for infants’ education and through the first cycle of primary education, ‘at least’ up to second grade. The children in these bubble groups will not have to maintain social distancing between one another. It is further recommended to organise all students in bubble groups as far as possible.
- Social distancing of 1.5m must be maintained for all activities that require students from different co-existence groups or classes to mix together – but it is stressed that ‘contact between classes should be minimized’. Where possible, outside spaces should be used for any activities between groups.
- Non-teaching staff and other workers should reduce their physical presence at educational centres to an ‘essential minimum’, carrying out activities online whenever possible.
- The authorities recommend that schools carry out communication and administrative issues with families by telephone, email, text messages or ordinary mail, and not face-to-face.
- All workers who might be more vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19 must respect protection measures even more carefully.
- Educational centres should remain open throughout the school year to ensure catering services, as well as educational support for pupils with special needs or socially vulnerable families, as long as the epidemiological situation of Covid-19 allows the centres to remain open.
- In school dining rooms, the safety distances must also be respected, except within the bubble groups. Each child should have a fixed place for the entire school term in the dining room.
- All school sports activities should be held without spectators.
- Training of educational professionals in security protocols due to the pandemic should be given. Students should also receive health education.
- Citizens are recommended to make the journey to the educational centres on foot or by bicycle, ‘to best guarantee social distancing’.
- People who have symptoms compatible with Covid-19 should not attend any educational centre, whether they are students, teachers or other workers.
- The overall agreement also establishes the course of action in the event of symptoms and testing, including early isolation and referral to the health system, the maintenance of the teaching activity whilst taking extreme precautions until the results of diagnostic tests, as well as the quarantine of close contacts. Any decisions on the suspension of class activity or the closure of specific schools in the event of outbreaks of Coronavirus will be taken by each regional authority.
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