The Ministry of Education (SEP) has pushed back against a recent call by a national private school association to reopen their schools starting March 1.
Education Minister Delfina Gómez, as well as Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, spoke out this week, saying that only the education ministry has the ability to authorize a return to in-person classes.
Sheinbaum asked families and teachers to be patient, predicting, “It won’t be much longer. Now there is a vaccine; there is a vaccination process.”
The National Association of Private Schools called upon the nation’s 8,190 private schools to reopen on Monday, saying that to keep them closed was violating Mexico’s students’ constitutional right to education.
“All sanitary precautions will be taken, both in homes and in schools,” the association said in a statement on its website last week.
The association said the move was necessary not only for students but also for the schools, many of which are completely closed or at the point of bankruptcy. If those schools were to close permanently, it would leave millions of children without schooling and would overwhelm the public system with new students.
It also accused SEP and the federal government of not working hard enough to get the nation’s children back into classrooms.
SEP officials said this week that they would listen to concerns and proposals from educators, but at the same time Gómez also issued a statement warning that the return to in-person classes is dependent on the nation’s coronavirus stoplight system and on local authorities, not on private schools’ desire to reopen.
“[The return to in-person classes] will be safe, orderly, gradual and careful,” she said, “and only when the coronavirus stoplight is at green …”
The statement was a reiteration of SEP’s policy since the spring, when the nation’s public and private schools closed and students went to distance learning classes at home. At the time, SEP officials said that schools would not be authorized for in-person classes until the entire nation was at green on the stoplight system.