chaos of "back to school": the centers, obliged to contract urgently

Lack of foresight and improvisation. These are the news that the educational community has found when it comes to returning to the classroom last Monday. The sixth wave of the pandemic continues unstoppable throughout Spain and experts are already talking about an “uncontrolled transmission” that has led the Government to rethink the strategy that is being carried out to stop Covid-19. Meanwhile, going back to school is becoming a minefield in which the number of infected is dangerously close to the 10% of the staff in Madrid centers who cannot join the classroom, according to the unions.

The problems have not stopped since the colleges and institutes opened their doors. The ratios remain at levels prior to the arrival of the pandemic, the criteria for confining groups have been relaxed and, the most worrying thing: the losses of teachers continue unstoppable. While last Monday the unions estimated the losses at 6%, throughout the week this figure has been increasing to 10%. However, there is a dance of figures. From the UGT they see it clearly: “It is clear that the Education Department has an interest in hiding the real data to try to show that the management of the pandemic in educational centers is good” and that is why the Madrid region indicated that it had more of 6,500 teachers on leave but, of them, only 3,741 were due to Covid. For its part, the Government is unconcerned and ensures “full normality and only 2.3% of teachers with leave throughout the territory.”

However, in Madrid, the number of casualties is higher than the number of substitutions requested because the centers have carried out their own reorganization. In fact, the addresses of schools and institutes are “uneasy” about this situation, which they fear “may worsen given that the peak of infections has not yet been reached”, as indicated by the CCOO Madrid Teaching Federation. They suspect that this wave in the educational classrooms could get more out of control because the Government of the Community of Madrid “has not taken any measures to minimize the impact of the lack of personnel or to prevent infections.”

Helpless

This is how the educational community feels. The Madrid region agreed that the centers must maintain the measures that were put in place at the beginning of this school year, such as the mandatory use of a mask from the age of six or the figure of the Covid-19 coordinator. Also continue the cleaning, disinfection and natural ventilation protocol. However, this is not enough for unions. From the CCOO Teaching Federation, they reproach that the only measures are reduced to opening the windows, which to date “violates the Occupational Risk Prevention Law because it is working at less than 17 degrees.”

CCOO demands that health and safety be ensured in the centers to be able to maintain presence in all stages and teachings and asks that the measures that should never have been eliminated be recovered and improved, with the provision of the necessary templates and with immediate coverage of substitutions.

In the rest of Spain the panorama does not change much. In the Basque Country, more than 1,350 teachers have been replaced with a view to returning to the classroom. In Navarra the number drops to 437 casualties and in the Balearic Islands to 300, although they foresee that this figure could increase in the coming days. The Canary Islands have almost 3% of the staff of infected teachers. In Catalonia the number of substitutes amounts to 1,568 teachers. In La Rioja the number of withdrawals has been 185 and in Cantabria 182. From the Valencian Community 508 teachers have been notified of withdrawal and in Andalusia, the centers have requested 925 replacements. In Asturias the return has developed with “normality”, as in Castilla y Len. In Murcia 1.4% of teachers have not been able to attend classes and Galicia has registered some 13,000 people affected, including students, teachers and workers at the centers. Finally, in Extremadura about 250 substitutions were summoned and in Castilla-La Mancha, 260 teachers took the leave.

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