One month after reopening, how are schools dealing with pandemic?
1 in 5 schools have had a confirmed case of Covid-19 as debate continues over best course of action
It's been one month since 5,136 schools across Catalonia opened their doors again to welcome back some 1.5 million students after a 6-month hiatus.
The health and safety measures introduced for the new school year included fixed class groups, temperature checks and staggered entry, exit, and break times, but the threat posed by Covid-19 is nonetheless ever-present.
When a student or staff member tests positive for the virus, they are sent to quarantine at home, as is anyone they have been in close contact with.
Josep Manel Prats, president of parents' association, Fapel, is quite positive about how the first month back in the classroom has gone.
"Protocols are being implemented well," he says. "Of course, there are always some exceptions and some problems that need to be solved, because all of this is new to everyone."
But not everyone agrees. Xavier Diez, spokesperson for teachers' union, USTEC, believes the beginning of the school year has not gone smoothly.
It has been "chaotic, with contradictory information, and erratic guidance from the education department," Diez says.
Pledge to keep schools open
Before the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year, Catalan authorities pledged to not close schools again, despite worries voiced by some teachers and families. As of October 16, 966 schools have affected by Covid, 18.83% of the total.
Sesa Cameán, head of Families for Educational Change wants schools to be shut down, as they were in March.
"We firmly believe we are right and that things will be worse in a few weeks," she says, pointing out that the infection rate "isn't decreasing, it is increasing."
In the spring, schools were among the first places to be shut down. Now, in October, as diagnoses and the outbreak risk continue to rise, the government is attempting to rein in the pandemic with stricter restrictions, but is hoping that schools can stay open for the remainder of the school year.