Fifteen states have heeded President López Obrador’s call and are preparing to reopen schools for the 2021-22 academic year at the end of August, but at least 12 others won’t do so unless the coronavirus risk level is green light low.
Mexico City, Baja California, Sinaloa, Puebla, Jalisco, Yucatán, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí, Chiapas, Guanajuato, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, Tabasco, Sonora and Zacatecas all intend to open schools on August 30, according to a report by the newspaper Milenio.
Schools in all 32 states closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic and most have not reopened since.
Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said that resuming in-person classes on August 30 is “essential” despite growing case numbers in the capital, which will switch to high-risk orange on the federal stoplight map on Monday.
López Obrador has also advocated the return to classrooms next month despite the worsening coronavirus situation.
“I’m in favor of classes returning. [The pandemic] is growing [but] not much. Yes, there are infections but there are no major risks for children and adolescents, good control [of the spread of the virus in schools] can be achieved,” he said Thursday before the Health Ministry reported 16,244 new coronavirus cases, the highest daily figure since January 29.
“… It’s no longer possible or convenient for distance classes to continue. We need to think of the children and adolescents and not just look after them … so they don’t get infected but also look after them emotionally and [attending] school is fundamental [to that],” López Obrador said.
The president said the recent increase in case numbers shouldn’t be used as an excuse for not reopening schools for the new academic year.
Puebla Governor Miguel Barbosa supported that view, saying that students’ return to the classroom is “urgent.”
However, the Puebla Education Ministry said the return to in-person learning will be voluntary.
Meanwhile, authorities in Baja California Sur, Chihuahua, Nayarit, Guerrero, Michoacán, Hidalgo, Durango, Quintana Roo, Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Campeche and Colima have indicated they won’t reopen schools next month unless their states are green light low on the stoplight map.
According to current federal guidelines, schools should only reopen when a state is green but the government will present a new stoplight map based on new parameters on Friday and it could be accompanied by a different recommendation with regard to the resumption of classes.
Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell said earlier this week that the government will no longer advocate “total closures” of public spaces because people are tired from “these long months of the epidemic.”
Milenio said that Morelos, Coahuila, Tlaxcala and México state have not yet decided whether they will reopen schools in August while authorities in Oaxaca are considering a gradual resumption of classes at which attendance will be voluntary. That means that students will still have the option to study virtually at home.
López Obrador charged that Mexico is lagging behind most of the world in reopening schools, saying it is one of just a few countries where students are still studying at home.
“The Education Ministry has instructions to begin planning so that … we can open schools at the end of August,” he said.
“There are those who don’t want [to reopen schools] but let’s see, isn’t that an attitude contrary to development? Isn’t education fundamental for the defense of social rights? Who is it that doesn’t want [children] to have access to education? For whom is ignorance a good idea? Who benefits from ignorance?” the president asked.