Misc 29/10/2020

Teachers' unions call for more safety in classrooms

Unions demand resignations due to the "disastrous" management of schools

2 min
Pa general de la porta del Departament d'Educació, amb les pancartes que hi ha penjat USTEC-STES.

BarcelonaTeachers want more measures in classrooms to make them safer. Thus claim the unions on a day when a new record was set for the number of school groups isolating: 3,391 out of 72,000, or about 5% of classes. In other words, around 80,000 pupils are in quarantine. For the unions, the figures are evidence of the "failure" of the Education Department's protocol.

The ASPEPC-SPS, a Secondary School Teachers' Union, has warned of "the very high incidence" of the virus, which is growing exponentially in schools, meaning they are "not safe" and showing that the department is "denying reality". They have stated that there is a "very clear asymmetry" between the cases detected in primary schools and in secondary schools, where there has been no reduction in the ratios. The figures that stand out are that four out of every ten primary schools have not reported any Covid cases and the incidence is one positive for every 200 pupils, whilst only one out of every ten secondary schools has not reported any positive cases and the incidence is one positive for every 70 pupils. Therefore, the union calls for "the immediate adoption" of the prevention measures they have been demanding for weeks: fewer students in the secondary school classrooms, more safety equipment and more physical distance.

The teachers' union USTEC-STES has also claimed safety in classrooms is not guaranteed to the maximum and that, especially in secondary school, there is no guarantee "that everyone can be tested", where tutors are tested but not the rest of staff. In primary school, however, things are not much better, according to the union, which has stated that the pandemic is getting "bigger" in schools, with more groups being confined and more positive cases.

"Ensuring safety in face-to-face education"

To denounce this, some forty people gathered at the gates of the Education Department this afternoon, where they also demanded more negotiation, more staff, more safety and fewer students per classroom. The deputy spokesperson of the union, Juan Carlos Feijoo, explained that they are "fed up" with the fact that meetings with officials are "informative" and that there is no "real" negotiation. "What we demand is an attempt to guarantee maximum safety in face-to-face education," he said. According to Feijoo, to do this lower ratios and more staff were needed. "It was a question of budget, it was an investment and the department never agreed to do it," he lamented, while claiming that the Education Department has done less than half of what it promised. Feijoo has also called for the preventive closure of some high schools in Barcelona, where he claimed that up to 50% of groups are confined.

Demonstrators attached banners to the headquarters of the Education Department. They also crossed the Via Augusta several times, even though they have not cut off traffic. They have chanted slogans calling for the resignation of the head of the Education department, Josep Bargalló, and have criticised the lack of protection material.