Confined school groups increase by 100
Education Department reiterates schools will be the last to close and rules out mass screening of students
BarcelonaThis Wednesday, the third day since resumption of activity in schools after the Christmas holidays, the number of confined groups has increased by 102 due to the detection of some positive cases of covid. There are now 121, bringing the total of staff and students in isolation to 4,594. There are no centres closed for health reasons, but five remain unopened due to the effects of the Filomena storm. The Department of Education reiterates that during the first quarter it was proven that the schools are "safe" spaces and that there is practically no contagion within the groups. "We were very clear that we had to reopen the schools", defended the general director of Public Schools, Josep González-Cambray, who in an interview with the Xarxa assured that the benefits of opening a school are "much higher than the risks". For this reason, he reiterated that right now they are not planning to close schools, despite admitting that no scenario can be ruled out and that everything is subject to the evolution of the pandemic.
Schools, he argued, would in any case be the last to be closed and, even if we arrived at a scenario of total lockdown, he pointed out that it would be necessary to assess how to make the principle of open schools compatible with health criteria.
On Monday, the Education Department sent the schools an update of the recommendations for classroom ventilation from the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), which, according to González-Cambray, specifies that natural crossed ventilation of the spaces is sufficient to guarantee air renewal and that a window must be opened between 15 and 20 centimetres for a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes every hour to ensure this renewal."We have the challenge of making air renewal and thermal comfort compatible," said the general director of Pubic Schools, who admitted that current circumstances mean that schools have to be warmer. He also defended that all the spaces used as classrooms must have windows and, therefore, must be able to ventilate naturally.
As for the self-samples that are being taken by the professionals in schools to detect possible asymptomatic positives, González-Cambray has pointed out that the tests will be done progressively during this month of January to be able to guarantee substitutions in case of detecting positives and that the department rules out carrying out similar tests amongst the students due to a question of "efficiency" of public resources. He pointed out that one and a half million tests would have to be done and that students are not very contagious, rarely transmit the virus and suffer from it in mild forms. "We have to devote public resources to the most efficient actions," he said.
He also hoped that extracurricular activities could soon be resumed, although he made it clear that this decision must be taken by the Health Department and that the risk of contagion rises slightly when there is a mixture of different groups.
Flexibility in competitions
As for public examinations for teachers held last Saturday, he detailed that 2.6% of the candidates for posts in public schools were not able to access the tests and that the department will study their situation "case by case". González-Cambray said that, due to the weekend snowfall and mobility difficulties, schedules were made more flexible so that tests could be taken at different times. He has defended that, if a justified cause is demonstrated, these candidates will be guaranteed the opportunity to continue in the process.