Return of Face-to-Face Classes Awaits an Appropriate Epidemiological Moment

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    The return of face-to-face classes is still in suspense. Although it was announced that the return would be in September, the truth is that the Health authorities – which are the ones that give the endorsement – indicated that they await an appropriate epidemiological moment.

    Even the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) has already reversed the application of the language proficiency tests for final year students and will reschedule those of the Baccalaureate exam, which were scheduled for this month.

    And it is that with the current COVID-19 case figures and projections, that return would not be in the short term, recognized Daniel Salas, Minister of Health, on August 5th. Since then the numbers of new cases have not diminished. The Greater Metropolitan Area (GAM) continues to lead the cases, a situation that would not be controlled until the end of the year.

    “In the GAM we are not going to cut the transmission completely, possibly we will have stronger moments in the middle of those Pandemic waves. We will have a recovery before the end of the year in the GAM, with more favorable data,” Salas declared.

    In turn, he warned that as long as there is a susceptible population and inappropriate behavior or practices that do not comply with the health protocols, there will be the risk of outbreaks, clusters and events that cause circulation of COVID-19 to increase.

    The positive is that the Ministry of Education has the 14 endorsed protocols, so that once the Health Ministry gives the green light to return to the classrooms there will be no delays. They could even be done in yellow areas where COVID-19 cases are falling.

    These protocols, which have yet to be published by the National Executive, include the transportation of students, admission to educational centers, the level of application and supervision of disinfection, class management and shortened times, among other measures.

    “The protocols contemplate aspects that must be implemented at a time when classes can be resumed, when the epidemiological moment allows it, but as we are now and, according to what has been seen in projections, this return will not be in the short term”, insisted Salas.

    At the moment, students will continue with distance education as the proposal for not stalling the year. But full virtuality is not yet possible, since only 50% of students have equipment and connectivity, 18% do not have Internet and 32% do not have any, reported the MEP. The Ministry of Education found weaknesses in distance education, such as, that some 2,397 teachers have not established any contact with their students during the Pandemic, or that 25% have no connection or the one they have is unstable and that slightly more than half do not have the knowledge of how to learn at a distance.

    The meeting between the Ministers of Health and Education is pending, who together make the decision whether or not that opportune moment will be September. At the moment, students will continue receiving distance education. Some of the findings of a survey by the State of Education show that: There is 25% of the teaching staff have unstable internet connections, or that they do not have it at all, which represents a serious barrier for teaching their classes at a distance.

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