QCOSTARICA – Both public and priave schools must adhere to the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education for the return to classes of some 350,000 students in the first week of February.
The first thing is that at the entrance to the school buildings there will be a disinfection area, where students must wash their hands, step onto a sanitizing mat, clean their backpacks and undergo getting their temperature taken.
If there are symptoms such as fever, cough or cold, they will not be able to enter common spaces with their companions, under no exceptions and their parents will have to take them back home or to a medical center.
All students will have a fixed space in the classroom. They must be seated 1.8 meters apart from each other and, of course, they will have to wear a mask that cannot be removed at any time, unless it is to eat food at a time established by the teacher.
In addition, students should not mix with students from other classrooms or grades, to keep their social bubble intact.
All schools or colleges will be capped at 50% of their capacity. This forces them to apply a hybrid education system, that is, on some days the students will be in the classroom, on others, they will receive their lessons at home.
Also, parents will have the decision to return their children to the in presence classrooms or choose to keep to have taught children in virtual classes.
The president of the Asociación de Centros de Educación Privada (ACEP) – Association of Private Education Centers, Giselle Betancourt, explained that this is “an umbrella protocol” that covers all institutions.
However, she clarified, it will be implemented differently in each education center.
“We are all different, absolutely different. Our entries, our classrooms, our common courtyards, the number of students, as well as the needs that parents have for their children to be in person or virtually.
“Hence, each institution must dedicate itself fully to meeting the needs of its students and, of course, taking care of the health and integrity of all staff,” said Betancourt.
Hybrid or virtual
As mentioned earlier, parents will be able to choose either their children will attend under a hybrid model, which includes some days face-to-face, that is in the classrom and other virtual days; or if they want their children or adolescents to continue learning from home, through the use of technology.
Both schools and private colleges must inform parents, in detail, about each model.
According to ACEP, the number of face-to-face and virtual days, under the dual model, depends on the conditions of each school, as there is no common formula.
Flexibility in schedules in private schools
The model adopted by private education would lead, for example, to some schools applying the hybrid model, where students could attend class every other day; In others, it could be established that they will attend three days a week in person.
Others, meanwhile, could alternate face-to-face and virtual weeks.
“Let us remember that the autonomy that private education has, gives us the guarantee that, once the protocols of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education have been complied with, we have the flexibility to adapt our calendars and schedules to the conditions that each of us has.
“This is in accordance with the infrastructure, the educational capacity, the student population served.
“Each institution has a model that it will develop, disseminate and share with parents, which will be based on what it can offer,” said Ramírez.
ACEP recommends that parents be in constant contact with the school authorities to keep informed.
The decision to return to face-to-face under this hybrid model, or to stay in virtual classes, in any case, will depend on the decision made by parents together with their children.
Recess is of concern for schools, teachers and parents. Unlike the normality before the coronavirus pandemic, now there will be no fixed recess hours.
Teachers must decide, depending on the availability of space in the school, when students go out for recess.
In this way, students from the same bubble must stay together respecting physical distance, without being able to mix with students from other classes or grades
At the end of recess, students must repeat the disinfection process before returning to their classrooms.
In addition, common spaces must be frequently disinfected by the school’s cleaning staff.
The 2021 school year in Costa Rica officially starts on Monday, Februay 8 and runs to the end of November.