Catalonia wants to end school quarantines before end of February

Government says "ideal scenario" is joint measure across Spain but it has power to adjust protocol alone

A pupil gets ready to go back to school after the holidays, January 10, 2022 (by Eli Don)
A pupil gets ready to go back to school after the holidays, January 10, 2022 (by Eli Don) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

February 1, 2022 05:21 PM

The Catalan government wants to do away with class quarantines in schools before the end of February, it announced on Tuesday.

The proposal will be discussed at Wednesday's Interterritorial Council meeting – made up of health representatives from the Spanish and regional governments – in order to adapt protocols in schools "to the current situation of the pandemic," spokesperson Patrícia Plaja explained.

With the "deceleration" of the sixth wave, as well as with the lifting of other restrictions – such as the use of Covid passport and the closure of nightclubs – it is also "necessary" to modify quarantine rules, Plaja said.

The government's proposal is that children who do not display any Covid symptoms and who do not test positive, "should not stay home", but instead attend classes as usual.

According to Plaja, the "ideal scenario" would be for the measure to be brought in throughout Spain, but she says if the Catalan government's suggestion is rejected, it has the ability to "change the protocols" on its own.

The measure will not come into force this week, Plaja said, adding that it must be done "with sufficient foresight" so that all affected parties have concrete and detailed information.

Lack of consensus

There have been differing opinions on the Covid protocols in schools among unions and medical experts.

Since January 10, primary school students are only obliged to quarantine if five or more pupils in the same class – no longer just one individual – test positive. The first vaccinations for children ages 5-11 began in mid-December.

The existing quarantine rules for contacts within classrooms are not the same for everyone: self-isolating is not necessary for those fully inoculated of any age, as well as anyone under the age of 12 (unless there are five or more positives in a class), but it is mandatory for unvaccinated secondary school students.

Some 20 families of unvaccinated teenagers have filed a lawsuit against the Catalan education ministry on the grounds that their "fundamental rights" have been violated since they are not allowed to attend lessons.

Public health secretary, Carmen Cabezas, said that "differentiating between those vaccinated and those not vaccinated makes sense."