Spain’s government is planning to limit class sizes to 15 students from the next academic year (2020/21), and is proposing a mixture of part online and part assisted classes until a Covid-19 vaccine is found.
THE Education Ministry together with the regional governments are exploring a mixed model of online and assisted classes, with fewer students. At the moment some regions allow around 28 students per class in primary schools, and up to 40 in secondary schools. However, class sizes will have to be cut to ensure social distancing measures are maintained to protect against the risk of Covid-19.
Given the limited resources available (both financial and otherwise) to extend space in schools to allow social distancing, the government (both regional and central) is proposing smaller classes with timetables split in half, so students either come in just every morning or every afternoon, or on alternate days/weeks. “The detail has yet to be worked out with each region/centre,” said Education Minister Isabel Celaá, in an interview with 20 Minutos, stressing that “we simply can’t put at risk all that has been achieved so far.”
“We now have the time to put the required structures in place and split classes into groups to achieve this,” she added. For the last three months of this academic year, students have not stepped into a classroom. However, Celaá believes this new model can work, “because smaller classes with fewer students also mean more personalised lessons and more attention to students.”
But the problem of ensuring smaller student ratios is that social distancing has to be maintained not just in the classrooms, but also in corridors and communal areas, which means more resources will be needed, according to education experts.
As well as maintaining social distancing, health and education experts are advising sanitiser gel on entering and leaving each classroom, the possible use of face masks, and rotating lunch/breaks, as well as staggering start and finish times, so everyone is not arriving or leaving at once. Education centres/schools will also need to be disinfected at least once a day, according to teaching unions, such as CCOO and UGT. They are also insisting on a health and safety plan to avoid schools becoming a focal point of contagion, with measures to protect students, teachers and other staff, as well as all families – particularly the most vulnerable and high-risk groups.