MADRID – The Ministry of Health has confirmed that all pupils and students in Spain will be able to return to schools and universities on January 10. The Omicron variant, therefore, does not endanger physical education in the second trimester of the 2021-2022 school year.
Minister Darias announced this in a press conference on Tuesday after consultation with the Ministry of Education and the autonomous regions in the Interterritorial Council for Health.
The decision was taken unanimously in the Council and the minister called returning to school a “priority”. “Pupils can go back to school in a safe way. However, caution is still advised, but the situation is not alarming. Keeping the schools open is the best option. And this is done under strict adherence to the prescribed protocols,” added Education and Vocational Education Minister Pilar Alegría.
Vaccination campaign makes return possible
Both ministers stressed that progress in the vaccination of school-age children will enable a safe return to school. Despite the delay due to the holiday season, 28.8% of all children between the ages of 5 and 11 have received at least one dose of vaccine in Spain. Furthermore, for the 12 to 18 age group, this number is 86.6%.
As of Monday, 90% of all residents of Spain aged 12 and older had been fully vaccinated. According to Minister Darias, this high vaccination rate ensures the consequences of infection rates in this sixth wave will be much less severe than before.
The importance of physical education is widely shared
It was not certain that schools and universities would reopen for physical education on January 10. This was due to the number of positive test results in recent weeks as a result of the Omicron variant. However, the central government, the sub-governments, and the education sector ensured everything was done to prevent the start of the year with online or semi-online education.
Ventilation and facemasks
Minister Darias said that schools must ensure cross ventilation (opening doors and windows opposite each other) and face masks remain mandatory. Furthermore, vaccination of children should be encouraged, as should adherence to all protocols prescribed by schools and universities.
Minister Joan Subirats of Universities announced that students infected with the coronavirus cannot physically come and take their exams. However, a possibility for a resit is being worked on. Moreover, Minister Subirats emphasised classrooms and lecture halls are still a safe environment.