SPAIN’S central government has agreed along with regional presidents to restart the school term next Monday, January 10, with regular classes despite record-breaking COVID-19 infection rates.
Health minister Carolina Darias said consensus was ‘not easy’ with the sixth wave of the pandemic causing 372,000 new COVID-19 infections over the New Year long weekend.
The capital of Madrid and the region of Murcia had pushed for remote schooling for older students, given high rates of infections following the holiday season.
It comes as a spike in infections has pushed Spain’s accumulated incidence up to 2,295 cases per 100,000 population – the highest infection rate since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Spain’s education minister Pilar Alegria however said the moves to reopen schools and universities were a collective ‘no to scaremongering’ but a ‘yes to prudence’.
She added that throughout the pandemic schools have not ‘exported cases’ but rather been hit by outbreaks from other environments.
According to the agreement today, and with the support of teachers’ unions and parents’ associations, all classes will be face-to-face from Monday.
Primary school classes will still have to face quarantine if a positive case is detected, while masks are obligatory for students aged six and over.
Schools were closed following the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, but since September 2020 there has been no blanket shutdown of schools and universities in Spain.
Whole classes and even entire schools have gone into quarantine, however, and in the last week of December 2021 1.3% of classes across Spain saw students in self-isolation.
By the end of January, Spain’s government predicts more than 90% of school children aged 5-11 will have received their first COVID-19 vaccination dose.
This means that classes in secondary schools and universities will not need to go home to self-isolate – and study remotely – when a positive case is detected.