Covid measures eased in Spain’s schools and colleges

Bubble groups and coronavirus social distancing measures are being dropped in Spanish educational centres

ÁLVARO SOTO Madrid

Despite the unstable coronavirus situation in Spain, the Government believes that schools are sufficiently prepared to face the new post-Covid normality.

Last week, the national Public Health Commission approved the update of the guide of measures to manage the virus in the classroom. This new version was not publicised by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Education, but it radically changes the protocols in the classroom: it eliminates the safety distance of 1.2 metres between students, ends bubble groups (except in dining rooms) and allows parents to enter schools and participate in face-to-face meetings.

The 2021/2022 academic year, which is about to end, has seen a progressive relaxation in restrictions. It began in February when the mandatory use of masks in playgrounds was dropped and in April their use indoors was ended, while on 5 March quarantines for students were eliminated. But now the new guide goes much further and no longer sees the need to “keep interpersonal distance” and students in a class can now "socialise and play with each other, interacting more normally."

Ventilation

The new guide also sets out that, from now on, families will be able to access both indoor and outdoor spaces of the educational centres, and for the entry and exit of students, although it is requested that crowds be avoided.

Experts have reminded the public that ventilation is "one of the most effective measures" and insist that it must be "reinforced." "Cross ventilation should be ensured, with doors and/or windows opening opposite or at least on different sides of the room (classrooms, dining rooms, gyms, etc.)", points out the document, which asks that the doors and windows should be opened for 15 minutes at the beginning and end of the day, during break times and between classes. Natural ventilation is the preferred option, but if it is not possible, air conditioning systems or air purifiers (equipped with HEPA filters) are advocated. In the case of activities that increase the emission of aerosols, such as shouting, singing or physical exercise, it is recommended to do them outdoors.

Specialists still recommend that a person with acute symptoms compatible with Covid-19 should stay home. And when a student begins to develop symptoms in the class, “a surgical mask should be placed on them and the family or legal guardians will be contacted.”