The Community of Madrid has already found the solution to the mathematical problem of Secondary school principals that it was impossible for them to maintain a safe distance with so many students in class. If you can’t meet the rule, skip it. That is how clear it has been in the order published this Friday in the Official Gazette of the Community of Madrid (BOCM), which specifies that, basically, they do what they can. The controversy is on the table and has its origin in the increase in ratios, that is, the return to the same number of students per classroom as before the pandemic but with the health standards of the pandemic. At least 70 directors (17 according to the Community of Madrid) warned in writing that they could not comply with the health standard of interpersonal distance due to lack of spaces. Now the regional government tells them, in writing, to keep whatever distance they can. And they wash their hands. CC OO has announced that it will appeal “this outrage” and request precautionary measures.
“In general, the classroom activity will be maintained during the 2021-2022 academic year in all the teachings, levels and educational stages, in a safe and healthy environment, with the necessary flexibility depending on the epidemiological scenario”, says exactly the published order Friday at the BOCM. “In accordance with this, the measures adopted in the Presence Scenario I are aimed at guaranteeing attendance in all the teachings and stages, so that the interpersonal distance of 1.2 meters mentioned in the aforementioned resolution of June 23 2021 will be applied in a general way, adopting, if not possible, an organization of the space that allows the greatest interpersonal distance between students, as well as reinforcing any other organizational and hygienic-sanitary prevention measures the center may adopt (increase frequency of ventilation, installation of screens, etc) ”.
Esteban Álvarez, president of the association of directors of Secondary, Adimad, says that the only good thing about this rule is that they, the directors, will no longer be responsible for what may happen in the classrooms. “They have put it in writing,” he explains, “now we only have to comply with what they say.”
Isabel Galvín, representative of Education in CC OO, assures, however, that “with this order, Madrid students are condemned to exercise their right to education in different conditions than those of the rest of Spain. Without security and without guaranteeing that they have the educational attention they need. This order fails to fulfill all the promises of Ayuso and Ossorio on health security and presence ”. For this very reason, he says, the union will appeal it and request precautionary measures, “because it annuls the instructions of the Vice-counselors that include an interpersonal distance of 1.2 meters for Scenario I in which we are and that this annulment did not appear in the project of order that was submitted to the opinion of the School Council in July ”.
According to data from Adimad, at least 40% of Madrid high schools have classrooms of 25 or 30 square meters, which means that it is “impossible” for 30 students to maintain 1.2 meters between students. The constructions prior to the 90s have larger classrooms, of about 48 square meters, and they do not have it easy either.
On September 7, the starting gun will be given for Early Childhood Education, Primary and Special Education, which will once again have 25 students per classroom and maintain bubble groups. The next day, those from Secondary, Baccalaureate and Vocational Training (FP) will return to the centers, with 30 students in Secondary and FP (they can go up to 33), and 35 for Baccalaureate (they can go up to 38). As in these cases, the bubble groups cannot be maintained because there are optional subjects, they are asked to maintain the separation between the students to avoid contagion. The agreement adopted at the sectoral conference was that they should separate the students by 1.5 meters (although they made it a bit more flexible and allowed to reach 1.2 meters). In Madrid, flexibility is total. If they can’t keep the 1,2, let them just do what space allows.
Álvarez assures that “it is evident that this is to recognize that we are right in terms of the impossibility of maintaining the distance with this ratio as we said in the writings. No matter how much later they deny it ”. Now, the director continues, it will be necessary to ask them if, as they said “it was possible to comply with their measures, why they change them and especially why they do not invest the budget transferred by the central government to ensure that the reinforcement plans and educational measures can have some viability, increasing the number of teachers and reducing the number of students per classroom. How are those about 1,500 million that they are going to receive going to be used? ”
On Tuesday the course begins with the heated atmosphere among the educational community. In the same order, the Ministry of Education boasts that thanks to its regulations last year turned out to be a success and that phrase has fallen like a bucket of cold water. “This regulation, together with other technical documents on prevention, hygiene and health promotion measures against Covid-19 published throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, have allowed the proper functioning of educational centers during the course, maintaining the same ones open, and that the impact of Covid-19 on them has been low ”, says the BOCM order. Álvarez responds, indignant: “It’s the last straw. Last year’s success was due to the enormous effort of the families, the students themselves, the hours of more than the teachers and the principals, and the fact that we reached the end of the year exhausted, ”laments the principal, who says that they deserve more respect and that the regional government sin a little less “arrogance”.
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