What will the next school year look like?
Face masks might soon go, but social bubbles are here to stay
With the end of the current school year in sight, the Catalan government’s Department of Education is already planning for the 2021-2022 term as well as how to deal with the difficulties the coronavirus pandemic will still pose.
In an interview with the Catalan News Agency, the Education minister Josep Bargalló said that the start of the next academic year will most likely resemble the end of the previous one. But changes could come soon enough.
"It’s highly unlikely that students will have received their vaccine by September, so initially the safety measures in place will remain the same. We’ll ease them as health authorities tell us we’re moving forward," said Bargalló.
"It’s highly unlikely that students will have received their vaccine by September, so initially the safety measures in place will remain the same"
Josep Bargalló · Education minister
The first major upgrade could be the end of the face mask mandate in areas with low infection rates, especially for younger pupils in primary education, comprising students from 6 to 12 years old.
On the other hand, social bubbles are expected to stay until Catalonia starts inoculating children against coronavirus, a scenario that still seems far off as a number of people under 80 are still waiting to receive their first dose.
However, teachers could be allowed to interact with each other once they have all been immunized against Covid-19.
The Department of Education is also hoping to keep most of the 8,000 professionals hired to help schools deal with the pandemic on board, which also include administrative staff and specialized workers. Bargalló even expects to hire another 500 people for the upcoming school year.
Two teachers, better than one
Education authorities are planning to expand the use of two teachers in the classroom, following pedagogical evidence that it is more efficient for learning.
The minister warned that increasing the number of teachers might compromise the long-term goal of reducing classroom ratios. "At some point, we will prioritize having two teachers over having low ratios," said Bargalló.
Education authorities are also eager to maintain staggered school entry as well as playground times as both measures have been found to reduce the number of conflicts among students and their families.