Parents and guardians are against the possibility of returning to distance learning and warn that the increase in new cases of covid-19 skyrocketed after the Christmas holidays, when schools were closed.
The worsening of the epidemiological situation in Portugal may lead to a new confinement similar to what happened in the spring, but the concrete measures will only be known on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister said this Monday that, among the experts, the most consolidated position points towards keeping educational establishments open, which is also the Government’s will.
However, in recent days, the possibility has been raised of older students returning to distance learning, leaving parents and guardians concerned.
“Distance learning is not a good solution, because it further increases the inequalities that already exist among the most needy students”, defended the president of the National Confederation of Parents’ Associations (Confap) in statements to Lusa.
Jorge Ascenção recalled that “schools have always proved to be safe places, with few cases of contagion”.
An opinion shared by the school principals contacted by Lusa: “The first period was relatively calm”, recalled the president of the National Association of Directors of Public Schools and Groupings (ANADEP), Filinto Lima.
Jorge Ascenção stressed that he was “a layman in the matter” but did not fail to “verify some facts”: The cases of contagion did not start in stark fashion in September, when classes started. On the contrary, after the Christmas and New Year holidays, the number of infected people soared.
“Until now, there was unanimity in saying that schools were safe places. What we know and are sure is that inside schools, students comply with the rules of the Directorate-General for Health. And we also know that the danger of contagion has to do with non-compliance with these same rules “, underlined Jorge Ascenção.
“During the holidays, there was an oversight of the rules,” he concluded.
Jorge Ascenção also recalled the studies that revealed that distance learning increases the gap between students and worsens students’ learning, especially the most needy.
“The eventual closure of schools will bring serious damage, especially for the most underprivileged,” he warned, recognizing that this is a decision that will be based on studies by specialists.
If the option is to suspend face-to-face classes, Confap asks that some of the parents’ suggestions be taken into account, such as being only the oldest to stay at home and the closing “be temporary”.
Instead of replacing face-to-face classes with distance learning, Confap suggests moving towards a mixed model: “For example, students would go to school twice a week, because they need contact with teachers but also with colleagues” .
Representatives of school principals also underlined the importance of face-to-face classes.
“Nothing replaces the presence in the classroom, but given the situation that the country is currently experiencing, we realize that it is necessary to take action,” Manuel Pereira, president of the National Association of School Leaders (ANDE), told Lusa.
Filinto Lima also recalled that “the school is a social elevator, but the pandemic showed us that with distance learning it was for many an elevator that just went down”.
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