One month on from the closure of schools with many questions left unresolved
University entrance exams have been pushed back but authorities insist the academic year is not yet finished
Schools have now been closed in Catalonia for a month.
The Catalan government took the decision to shut all education centers from Friday, March 13, one day before Spanish president Pedro Sánchez formally declared the state of alarm across all of Spain.
The move affected around 1.8 million students across the country, and about 100,000 teachers, from primary, secondary, and higher education centers.
Since then the country has gone on a painful journey in dealing with the coronavirus crisis, an unprecedented situation that has led to difficulties across all sections of government administration and indeed society.
This meant that students, parents, and teachers have been waiting day by day for updates on how courses would progress, and how and when they would be able to be finished.
During this period of home confinement, educators have sent homework and study plans to pupils to keep up their studies from home. As well as that, some learning centers have started giving classes online.
Online classes and learning remotely
There are questions and doubts regarding the possibility of finishing the 2019/20 academic year. One possibility proposed from the beginning of the crisis was to continue classes telematically, which was rejected by the Catalan authorities as not all families have access at home to the necessary resources, such as an internet connection.
However, Catalan education minister, Josep Bargalló, who affirms the academic year has not yet finished, said that the government is now looking into that possibility as the only option left.
Bargalló stated that "it will not be possible to open all schools on the same day and in the same way" in a recent radio interview. The minister went on to say that "it should be possible to return to classrooms before Sant Joan," which falls on June 24, a holiday which traditionally falls just after the end of the school term.
However, he underlined that the decision will always be made based on recommendations from health authorities, and said "when it happens, it must be done on a case-by-case basis."
University entrance exams delayed
Another issue causing concern is the university entrance exams, which normally begin in early June. The state and regional authorities reached an agreement with the universities to hold the exams between June 22 and July 10, with the second part of the exams taking place from September 10.
On Tuesday March 31, Catalan education authorities revealed that July 7 to July 9 will be the new dates for the rearranged exams, but a decision will be made on May 5 as to whether these new dates will be kept provisionally or pushed back again.
The "form and content" of the papers will be modified so that no student is disadvantaged due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the health crisis.
As for other end-of-year evaluations, Bargalló has ruled out giving all students a free pass, but said that exams would have to take the pandemic into consideration as it was not possible "to demand the same." The minister also said the government has no wish to extend the school year into July, due to the effect it would have on the next school year.
Spain's School Board, on the other hand, is opposed to holding classes in July due to the ongoing public health crisis, and therefore believes in postponing exams until September.
Among the 23 proposals made public by the school board, they argue against classes in July, because teachers and students "are not on vacation, and the psychological burden they have had to endure also requires a normal rest period."
If classes were held in July, this could affect vacation schedules and rest time among families, the board warns.