Term starts on 10 January / IGOR MARTÍN

Back-to-school with masks as planned

Schools, colleges and universities in Spain will start to return to face-to-face teaching on 10 January with the same Covid-19 prevention measures as last year

DOMÉNICO CHIAPPE

Spanish schoolchildren and students will return to their classrooms as planned on 10 January after the government decided on 4 January to not keep schools closed in the face of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

"Presence is an absolute priority," said Minister of Health Carolina Darias. The decision was reached unanimously between the Interterritorial Council of the National Health System, the Education Sector Conference and the General Conference on University Policy.

Prevention measures in educational centres will remain unchanged with guidance about cross ventilation, frequent hand washing, maximum hygiene and the correct use of masks, including in playgrounds, still in place. The duration of quarantine for students is also unchanged.

Rise in incidence

"In the following days we will continue to see a rise in incidence. We will be seeing the effects of Christmas Eve and end of the year events. But there is less seriousness, which has to do with the Omicron variant and the very high vaccination rate,” the Health Minister said.

One of the reasons why face-to-face teaching can continue is the high rate of vaccination. Some 86 per cent of students aged between 12 and 19 have received two doses of vaccine, and 28.8 per cent of five-to-11 year olds have received at least one shot.

“Attendance was unanimously agreed now, as it was before the start of the 2021-22 academic year. Taking stock of that decision was absolutely correct. Prudence, yes; scaremongering, no,” added Education Minister Pilar Alegría.