New school year
Society 07/09/2022

Heat and unfinished building work mark start of school year

A minority of schools are unable to start classes normally because new prefabricated modules are not yet ready

3 min
Image of the unfinished works at the Narcisa Freixas high school in Sabadell

BarcelonaThe school year has started relatively calmly in nursery and primary schools (no strikes and, in the end, sufficient activity leaders in most cases) and the same thing is expected to happen from Wednesday in secondary schools, which also start the year earlier than usual. Complaints focus on two issues: the heat in schools, which are poorly conditioned for high temperatures; and unfinished building works, which affect various schools.

"This week, in 1st and 4th of ESO classes will be at the school, while 2nd and 3rd year students will go to the civic centre and go on excursions," explains Rosa Gonzalo, vice president of the Narcisa Freixas Secondary School Parent Association in Sabadell. It is a school which has long been waiting for a new building, which has not yet been built, and now, families complain, "not even the pre-fabricated modules will be ready for the start of the year". New modules were to be installed to accommodate 4th ESO students and make space in other classrooms, but the works that should have started on July 18 were delayed two weeks and the planned work will not be finished on time. "It is not expected that the playground nor the new module will be usable before 12 September," the spokeswoman for the families warns.

The students of the Escola Santa Anna de Premià de Dalt will not find everything ready either. First they mobilised for their school to also offer secondary education, and they succeeded. Then they got together again to demand a new building, but the Education Dpt only confirmed that they would install temporary modules for the new groups. Now they are protesting again against the lack of appropriate facilities. "The furniture will be distributed on the same day the children start classes", the parent association denounces, and no classes can be taught until the 12th. "After all that we have complained, we demanded an appropriate space for our children. Yet at the start of the year secondary school students will have to be 'in alternative spaces'. As parents we can only say enough is enough," they said in a statement.

Image of Narcisa Freixas Secondary School in Sabadell
Image of the secondary school in Sabadell

40 ºC in class

Students, teachers and families have also complained about the "infernal" heat, they say, in classrooms. As already happened in June, during the heat wave that marked the end of the year, schools again "broke records for heat" this September, as denounced by Escola Auró Parent Association in Barcelona, where they claim it was over 40 ºC. "Any measures planned to have schools in appropriate conditions?" they ask. Very high temperatures have also been reported in Vilanova i la Geltrú and Castelldefels, among other towns.

At the press conference at the beginning of the school year, Education minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray announced that "in the medium and long term" there will be a climate emergency plan to "progressively adapt schools" to the context of the climate emergency, but he did not specify what the "corrective measures" will consist of. What does not seem plausible from the outset is that air conditioning be installed, because the department believes that it is not "sustainable energetically". In the new instructions to schools to deal with heat waves, the department excludes the option of suspending classes on days with high temperatures as some schools had requested and proposes lowering blinds, maintaining cross-ventilation, avoiding physical activity around midday and hydrating.

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