Back to school after Covid-19
The Spanish government has announced the measures that will be in place to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission in schools when children return to their classrooms in September.
The rules will apply in all of Spain, even though education is one of the functions devolved to Spain’s autonomous regions. The details of how the measures are applied will be managed by the regional education authorities.
In Catalunya, the Minister of Education, Josep Bargalló, stressed how important it was to re-open schools, despite the difficulties of managing the inevitable Covid-19 cases: “The educational service is more than ever an essential public service in terms of the training of our children and young people, who will have been disconnected from the daily life of the school for six months. We cannot have a generation of young people continuously disconnected from school."
How will schools reduce the risk of transmission of the virus within the school community?
The measures include:
- Compulsory face masks for all children over six years old, and recommended for children between 3-5 years old. This will apply for the whole school day, including on school transport and during classes.
- Physical distance of 1.5 metres must be maintained, and regular handwashing will be encouraged.
- Everyone entering the school will have their temperature taken.
- Classrooms will be regularly ventilated, and outdoor activities will be encouraged where possible.
How will schools be organised?
There will be co-ordination between the departments of health and education in each of the autonomous communities. For example, in Catalunya schools will have direct contact with a nurse at the nearest CAP health centre, and an app - Traça Covid - which they use to update information every 12 hours.
Pupils and teachers in the school will be divided into “stable groups” – class groups of children and a teacher. Stable groups will be able to do activities together and be in the same space (for example, their classroom) without strict attention to distancing. However, all children over the age of six years will need to wear a mask even in their stable group.
Masks must also be worn when moving through common areas of the school (for example, entrances, corridors and toilets). Distance must be maintained from anyone outside the stable group, and regular hand washing and the use of gels will also be encouraged. Teachers who have contact with more than one group must always wear a mask and maintain distances.
The head of the school will be responsible for implementing the measures, and teachers will receive training before the school year starts. Parents are responsible for making sure children are not sent to school if they have any symptoms of the virus, such as a fever.
What happens if there is a suspected case of Covid-19?
In Catalunya, the departments of education and health have published procedures that will be followed in the event of a suspected case of Covid-19. Other regions will follow similar protocols.
If a child shows symptoms while at school, he or she will be isolated from the other children and their family contacted. A medic will assess the symptoms and perform a PCR test. The test results will be available within 24 hours. In the meantime, the other children in the stable group (class) can continue with normal activities.
If the test is negative the child can return to class. If the test confirms a Covid-19 case, everyone in that stable group will go into quarantine for 14 days and will be tested. Even if these tests are negative, the 14-day quarantine will be maintained. The siblings of this group must also go into quarantine.
If there are two cases from two separate groups who share some spaces and common areas (such as being in the same building) everyone will be tested, and it is recommended that all groups affected observe a 14-day quarantine, which may mean closing the school temporarily.
If there are two cases from two separate groups in a school, but the two groups don’t share common areas then everyone will be tested. The 14-day quarantine will be considered but may be judged not to be necessary, depending on the circumstances.
How can we prepare for school?
It’s advisable for parents to be in contact with their individual school to understand exactly how the measures will be implemented. Parents should talk to their children to explain how things will be different this year so that children are ready and not shocked or unduly worried by the changes.
Each child will also need a supply of masks – MasksForAll has a convenient 5-pack which works out at five masks for the price of four – one for each day of the week. A little hand gel bottle which clips onto the school bag is also handy. See the MasksForAll website for all our great designs and be prepared for when the new school year starts in September.
All our masks are made in Barcelona and are approved to the UNE 0065 specification. MasksForAll also sells masks directly to schools on a wholesale basis – contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.