Staggered start and finish times among new health and safety measures for schools
Education minister hopes to announce final number of new staff for upcoming academic year by middle of next week
Health and safety measures for the new school year have been revealed in a government document entitled 'Action Plan for the 2020-2021 academic year for schools in the framework of the pandemic'.
The main initiatives include staggered ten-minute time slots for the beginning and end of the school day, staggered break times, and fixed student groups.
In general, family members will not be allowed onto school premises, having to gather outside the school gates as opposed to in the patio.
Students will be divided into set groups, as announced on Monday, with education minister Josep Bargalló adding on Friday that work is under way to ensure primary class sizes are kept under 25 and secondary school groups under 30.
Outside of these fixed groups, face masks must be worn and safety distances observed.
Students will be expected to wash their hands when arriving and leaving, before and after meals, before and after going to the toilet, and before and after any activities, such as going out to the playground.
Classes are to be kept ventilated, with classroom windows to remain open whenever possible. All areas should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily.
In the canteen, each set group of students must be kept apart, and there will be more lunch sittings if necessary to keep numbers manageable.
Protocol for Covid-19 symptoms
The document also sets out the protocol to be followed in the event of Covid-19 symptoms. Any student or staff member who has symptoms will be taken to a separate space for, asked to put on a surgical mask and, in the case of a student, the family will be contacted to pick them up.
The total or partial closure of a school "will be the result of the assessment, on the ground, by the health authority," the plan states.
Negotiations with unions
The education minister also explained on Friday that they are still negotiating the final number of new staff that will be hired for next year with the unions, and he did not want to specify figures.
On Monday, the vice-president, Pere Aragonès, spoke of a minimum of 5,000 and the president, Quim Torra, spoke of between 6,000 and 10,000.
Bargalló said that there was still "no final agreement or final disagreement," adding that he hopes to be able to announce the final number of staff, not just teachers, by the middle of next week.