Return to In-Person Classes Should Not Stop Due To Fourth Wave Of Covid-19, According To Experts

    Hand washing, physical distancing, vaccination and proper use of the mask would help overcome the health crisis

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    Covid-19 will eventually become an endemic disease, meanwhile populations around the world will have to learn to live with the virus and its alterations,” said Agustín Gómez, Coordinator of the Statistics Unit of the Development Observatory from the University of Costa Rica.

    After two years of a mixed model of education, the return to in-person classes should not stop due to the impact of the new pandemic wave that Costa Rica is experiencing, say several epidemiology experts.

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    The fact that the Omicron variant is less lethal than the previous strains, that the application of more than 7.5 million vaccines has already been registered, and that children between the ages of five and eleven will begin to be immunized, experts ensure that the return to the classroom is safe and necessary for the educational system.

    Hand washing, physical distancing, proper use of the mask and of course, continuing with an agile vaccination system at the national level, would help mitigate this wave.

    It is presumed that, based on mathematical models, by the end of this month, Ómicron touches the peak in the country, reaching more than 6 thousand cases a day, this being a “positive” outlook, although there is also a high probability that the figure will double and even triple.

    However, world and local health authorities emphasize that the Omicron strain is less lethal than its predecessors and that the vaccines already applied would help mitigate its impact.

    For now, the return to classes remains for February 17th, confirmed President Carlos Alvarado last week.In that sense, experts point out that Costa Rica has to learn to live with the virus.

    “Covid-19 will eventually become an endemic disease, meanwhile populations around the world must learn to live with the virus and its alterations, each one being responsible for how to protect themselves, that will be an acquired normality.

    Education in crisis

    Eight-year-olds who have not yet learned to read and write, first-time university students who are forced to take remedial classes to cope with the new academic demands and a teaching staff -60% of teachers and professors – without the technical skills to teaching through virtual classes are some of the urgent signs about the poor state of public education.

    To this, it should be added that more than 500 thousand students are displaced from the educational system because they do not have access to computers or the Internet.That is why the educational system could not afford to extend the virtuality or a mixed model of teaching.

    In Costa Rica, the most noticeable change in the behavior of the pandemic occurs as of December 17th, the date on which an exponential growth trend is confirmed, which the experts have repeatedly indicated is only justified by the presence of the Omicron variant.

    “Let us remember that this pandemic has been characterized in the first place by uncertainty. It has always given surprises, and that is precisely the capacity of a pandemic, to give surprises, that is why we speak of projections. For example, with the Ómicron variant, the initial assessments of the number of cases that we would see in the coming weeks has already been displaced by its rapid rate of contagion”, indicated Rónald Evans, an epidemiologist and researcher at the Universidad Hispanoamericana.

    There are measures that were effective in their time, such as restrictions on vehicular mobility or even the temporary closure of businesses and the regulation of capacity; However, reality indicates that the country needs to reactivate in all fields; Gómez warns, who is cautious in stating that it is too premature to speak of new measures by the government.

    “Vaccination continues to be the most powerful weapon we have to deal with Covid and its strains, we must all get vaccinated, have complete schedules”; added Evans, who stressed that the immunizing capacity that a person acquires when they are already prey to the virus, added to that provided by any drug, not only that of Covid-19, weakens over time, so it is important to apply the doses that health experts recommend.

    Basic recommendations:

    – Handwashing

    – Use of masks

    – Physical distancing

    – Vaccination

    – Maintain ventilated spaces

    – Share in reduced social bubbles

    – Respect the capacity established in public places.

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