The reopening of schools by the first cycle, which starts this Monday, will bring more than 1.5 million Portuguese people, including students, parents, teachers and employees, out of the home. The lack of education in education begins with the smallest students who are “the ones who pay the heaviest bills” of two difficult school years, defends the President of the National Association of Directors of Groups and Public Schools (Andaep), Filinto Lima. “Individual work is needed” to catch up on learning.
More than 700,000 children are returning to their classrooms this Monday – according to the latest official data from the Directorate-General for Education and Science Statistics, 231,000 are enrolled in preschool and 372,000 in the 1st cycle. Daycare centers, which will also reopen on the first day of deflation, have at least 100,000 children, according to the latest 2018 Social Charter. If 700,000 children go to school, the same number of parents will have to leave home to transport them at the beginning and end of the day. In other words, around 1.4 million people move around every day among students and guardians alone.
The return of first cycle students to personal education has already been classified as “urgent” by the President of Andaep. He is particularly concerned about first and second year students who have been long distance learning at a crucial stage in their development. The necessary restoration will not only occur in what is missing in this academic year: “At least in the first cycle these students will have to do restoration work.”
The “consolidation” that needs to be carried out implies “good work”, defends the same responsibility. That is, adapted to the needs of each student. Therefore, students need individual support to respond to deficiencies found in their study. It will also be useful to place support teachers with the full professors in the 1st cycle classrooms, suggests Filinto Lima.
This “requires more human resources,” he defends. That academic year, the Department of Education (ME) increased hourly credits for schools and hired hundreds of tutors and specialist technicians as part of a school success program. This bet needs to be “stepped up” in the coming years, says Filinto Lima.
When accounting for 1.5 million people moving this Monday, teachers (28,000 in the 1st cycle) and educators (15,000 in preschool) also count the school employees. According to official statistics, there are 3600 educational institutions with “between four and seven” operational assistants in the 1st cycle, emphasizes Filinto Lima. PUBLIC uses the most conservative estimate (4 operations assistants for each school) to calculate a total of 15,000 employees who are back at work.
The 29,000 daycare workers and 20,000 teachers and technicians involved in the Curriculum Enrichment Activities (AEC) are also returning. Although most AEC staff have no relationship with the Department of Education – activities are in most cases sponsored by local authorities or parents’ associations – these teachers and technicians are tested as well as teachers and staff. Rapid antigen tests will be carried out on teachers and non-teachers in pre-primary and first cycle basic education in all municipalities in mainland Portugal on Tuesday and through March 19.
The use of masks for children under the age of ten is still not compulsory, at least in the first days of face-to-face classes. The PUBLIC questioned DG Health in the past few days to understand whether this indication is maintained the moment the younger students return to face-to-face classes, but received no response.
Late last week, the ME instructed schools to purchase a kit of three community masks to be delivered to 1st cycle students, similar to what was done at the start of the school year for older colleagues. Its use is “voluntary”, whereby “the respective parents are responsible for the decision”, defined the instructions.
School principals and guardians disagree that students must wear a mask. While the National Association of School Directors (ANDE) understands that action can strengthen security, the National Confederation of Parents’ Associations (Confap) sees no benefit in adopting them.