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    Doctors from Costa Rican Children’s Hospital Urge to Move Ahead With In Person Classes

    The health specialists emphasize the mental and emotional aspects of returning to in person classes

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    Doctors from the National Children’s Hospital (HNN) urged parents to allow their children to return to the classroom, starting this Monday, February 8th. Due to the novel Coronavirus, the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) suspended in person classes on April 3rd, 2020 and, months later, proceeded to implement virtual clases.

    This caused a whole chaos in the students who, from one moment to another, stopped seeing and interacting with their classmates and friends. The first months were a complete mismatch, both for teachers, students and parents. But over time the parties barely settled. February marks 10 months since the last time the classrooms received students. And now the return generates a whole series of fears and challenges.

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    For health and advancement

    Experts recommend going back to class, because the socialization process is important in the learning stage. Olga Arguedas, director of the HNN, assured that not sending children and adolescents to schools and colleges is closing them life opportunities.

    “Pediatricians are exhorting all parents to allow their children (to return to in person classes), for their physical health, for their emotional health and for interagency health. Because being educated is a gain for future generations”, stated Arguedas. Stressing that “return to in person classes, be done in a structured and cautious manner.”

    The benefit far exceeds the risk

    She was emphatic in stating that, among the reasons why return to the classroom should be encouraged, is that minors have the right to education “in the best possible way.” Noting that more is known about the SARS-CoV-2 virus today than it was months ago. This has made it possible to take measures so that the return is under controlled conditions, with which “the benefit far exceeds the risk.”

    “There are scientific reasons that support going back to school. In addition, pediatricians have always known that school is a much safer environment than home. And especially when parents are dedicated to teleworking or looking for a livelihood at a time when the country is experiencing an economically difficult situation,” Arguedas argued.

    Between illusion and doubt

    Max Figueroa, HNN psychiatrist, added that the in person start represents, for many families, a mixed sensation. “Just as we are excited, positive and optimistic, there will be people who, at this moment, are skeptical, anxious and with doubts, which is valid and real,” said Figueroa.

    To this he added that “It is a reality, children need to socialize again. We need them to let these 10 months go by blank in their stimulation, as it is something very necessary”. He explained that they need to return a little to that reality, gradually. “The message is to go slow and not to panic just yet. That we do not get anxious and that we do not spread our anxiety to children, who are the main receptors of adult anxiety,” Figueroa reaffirmed.

    He mentioned that despite the fears that the return to in person classes can generate, this is a better time to do it. “We cannot underestimate the ability of teachers to educate and our children to learn and our ability as parents to model our children,” he said. To this he added that “then I consider that not only the MEP has to put the protocols, this belongs to everyone, parents must contribute.”

    Dr. Figueroa recommended that parents, keep the following aspects in consideration:

    Control your emotions. Speak honestly with your children, but in a way that gives them peace and confidence Be sincere and honest with them, about the reasons why you have to take care of yourself and protect others as well.

    Identify people at risk in the houses and take protective measures in an objective and responsible manner. Do not overwhelm them with questions, but give them the spaces for the minors to express themselves.

    Pay attention to sleep routines, ensure they sleep at night.

    Give them a good diet.

    Guarantee them spaces for recreation.

    Safe and necessary passage.

    Lots of motivation

    The academic vice minister of the MEP, Melania Brenes Monge, said that there is a lot of motivation to go back to school on February 8th. She asserted that actions were taken and protocols were approved to ensure that it is safe. “This is a safe and necessary step that the country has to take to resume the combined processes,” Brenes said.

    “We are going to do it gradually, safely and subject to certain protocols that we have already communicated and disseminated through the national media and also through training processes for all teachers in the country and professionals who work in educational centers in the country,” she stressed.

    Brenes said that, as it is a combined class model, it will allow having an adequate number of students in educational centers and classrooms, in which distance and rest spaces will be respected, which will guarantee prevention.

    On the other hand, she explained that they will increase access to supplies for hand washing, such as soap and water. “All the officials of the educational centers have the protocol that they must adequately comply with, the use of the mask, the pedagogical mediation within the classroom, it has a specific protocol that involves, while we get used to this dynamic, that the processes are more personalized”, Brenes reviewed.

    She added that there will be alternation in groups, with which it is intended that neither in the bathrooms, nor in the sodas and at the entrance of the educational center, the largest number of people that generate agglomerations do not coincide. She indicated that in educational centers, all adults will wear a protective mask to avoid contagion of COVID-19

    Basic measures

    It is important that the parents or guardians of the minors who will return to in person classes take into account these details:

    Do constant hand washing

    Use the mask correctly, in children under 2 years of age its use is not recommended. In the group of children older than 6 years the suggestion is that you should use it in all cases.

    Apply and respect social distancing

    Properly apply sneeze and cough protocols.

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