Fewer quarantines and free testing for students after Christmas holidays

Free antigen tests will be provided if a positive result is detected in the class; immunized students will not have to quarantine

2 min
The playground of a school in Barcelona in an archive image

BarcelonaStudents return to schools today after the Christmas break, marked by the changes announced on Friday that reduce the number of quarantines for students should a covid-19 case be detected in their class. The changes come amid criticism from the Generalitat over the Spanish government's "haste" in implementing the changes, Ustec union's warnings of a "powder keg" of contagions in the middle of the sixth wave and families' satisfaction over a protocol that prioritises a certain normality in classrooms.

These are the measures in primary and secondary schools from now on:

Quarantines once five cases are detected

In the nurseries and primary schools students will have to isolate for 7 days only when five or more infections are detected in their class in a period of one week or when the number of cases represents 20% or more of the students in their class. It will not be necessary to isolate for those who have had covid in the previous three months nor for the fully vaccinated –children in this age group have only been able to get the first dose at this point– as is already the case in secondary schools. Quarantine is eliminated altogether for what are considered sporadic infections within the classroom, i.e. when less than 5 students are affected.

Testing of close contacts

The Health Department has chosen to maintain antigen testing of close contacts when a positive test is detected in a classroom. Students will be entitled to a free test carried out at a pharmacy on the same day or the day after the infection is reported in their group. For nursery schools, the test will be done at a centralised point or they will be directed to their health centres.

Reinforcements for teachers

One of the great unknowns of the return of the virus is the possible loss of teachers and the impact this may have on schools in a context of high transmissibility of the virus. The Department of Education has already appointed 571 interims and substitutes to cover possible sick leaves as of tomorrow. Catalan Minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray, has assured this Sunday to TV3 that all short-term sick leave (5 days or less) will be covered from the day after they are communicated and that daily postings will be made.