14ymedio, Havana, 15 August 2020 — On Friday’s Roundtable TV program, the Minister of Education, Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, answered the question of many parents: when will the schools open? The official explained that schools will open on September 1, the course will be restarted in all provinces except Havana, which is experiencing a tense “epidemiological situation” due to covid-19.
Velázquez specified that students will start in the same grade they were in when schools closed for the pandemic, because the first month will be used to complete the studies for the 2019-2020 course that will conclude on October 31. Only then will the new school year begin and for about three weeks the students will have reviews to take the final evaluations.
At this time, some measures will be taken such as designing staggered hours for recess, eliminating the morning assembly and prohibiting workers and students with respiratory symptoms from entering the schools, nor will people who are not employees be allowed access.
Similarly, the mandatory use of face masks is established, along with the disinfection of the hands and the classrooms, using bleach and also a chlorinated solution. In school canteens, in addition to sanitary measures, physical distancing will have to be guaranteed. Somewhat difficult due to the infrastructure and water supply problems of many locations.
In response to the concern that some parents have expressed on social networks about how contagion will be avoided in institutions, Velázquez pointed to the collective responsibility, saying “it is not only important what the educational center does, but also what is done in the home environment and other spaces.”
Due to the complex situation that the capital is experiencing in the confrontation with Covid-19, the course will not restart in the city on September 1 like the rest of the provinces. According to the minister, decisions will be taken in Havana in correspondence with the epidemiological situation. “In this scenario, as the students must be kept at home, we will develop television programs to reinforce the preparation of the students,” she said.
“I am happy with this measure, I am concerned about the figures that we have seen recently every morning at the Durán press conference. At home we had already decided not to send the children to school but we were waiting for a response from the ministry which, luckily, has been to delay the course in the case of Havana,” Deisy Linares, a resident of the Plaza de la Revolución municipality, told 14ymedio.
Also postponed is the return of teachers who reside in other provinces but who work in the capital. They represent 50% of the teachers who are working in Havana today.
Regarding the case of the municipalities of Camajuaní and Bauta, which are currently in quarantine, she reported that they will be specifically monitored to take specific measures with them.
In her speech, the minister acknowledged that at the beginning of the pandemic, more than a thousand schools were identified “where there were difficulties in complying with hygienic-sanitary measures” and that some have spent the last months addressing these problems. “It demanded hard work to solve the problems detected, fundamentally related to the plumbing and water supply facilities,” she explained.
Those schools where there were overcrowded conditions were also identified and she explained that the necessary measures have been taken in these cases to meet current requirements.
The minister confirmed that the Ministry of Public Health has been in charge of carrying out the sanitary certification in each school, a process that she assured is “almost concluded.” She pointed out that of the total of all facilities, 127 have not obtained the certification.
The Cuban authorities suspended classes in March as part of the measures to combat Covid-19. During one stage the students received content on television through educational programs and later enjoyed their vacation period.
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