Catalonia plans to vaccinate 12-16 year olds in schools

Education Minister opens the door to starting the new school year without face masks

2 min
General view of a teacher of the IES Joanot Martorell talking to several students of the second year of baccalaureate in a classroom of the center, in an archive image

BarcelonaOne day after the European Medicines Agency (EME) decided that adolescents aged 12 to 15 can also receive the Pfizer vaccine, Catalonia has announced that the plan is to vaccinate this age group in high schools. The Catalan Minister of Education, Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, explained that if the vaccination plan for this population group is approved, in principle young people aged 12 to 16 will receive the doses in the centres where they study. This idea has been discussed with the Catalan Minister of Health, Josep Maria Argimon. In an interview on Catalunya Ràdio, Gonzàlez-Cambray also opened the door to starting the new school year without face masks if the pandemic evolves well.

The Minister considers it feasible to vaccinate schools because PCR tests have already been carried out. The only thing that could alter this forecast is if vaccination is brought forward to adolescents aged between 12 and 16: "If the calendar is in August, obviously we will not do it in high schools, but if it is in September, it is most likely that we will vaccinate our young people in high schools". Dependent youngsters will be vaccinated first and then, according to the vaccination plan, the rest. Gonzàlez-Cambray argued that the aim of carrying out the vaccination in high schools is to make it "easier", although he added that "it has to be fine-tuned at a procedural level".

As for teachers, the Minister takes for granted that "practically" all teachers will be vaccinated with the two doses when the new school year begins. On the use of the face mask in schools, Gonzàlez-Cambray has said that "it could be very likely" that the year begins without the obligation to have to wear it, but has pointed out that it will depend on the herd immunity that has been achieved with vaccination. "Pedagogically, we prefer no masks", he made clear.

A "100% face-to-face" school year

Gonzàlez-Cambray has assured that the idea is that the next school year will be "100% face-to-face every day", despite the fact that cohexistence bubble groups would still be maintained. The department also plans to continue with the reinforcement of 8,000 professionals who were hired this year because of the covid. As for the university entrance exams, which will be held in early June, the Minister said that they will take place in high schools "with maximum security", following the protocol approved by the Procicat. If students cannot attend because they have to be confined or have covid, they will be offered an alternative date.