53 schools across Spain have now reported outbreaks after reopening- despite rising cases, the schools remain open for students.
Spain’s Education Minister said that dozens of schools across the country have registered fresh coronavirus cases during the first week of classes. Meanwhile, single-day cases across the country have set another record. A total of 10,764 new infections were reported in just the past 24 hours which is the highest figure since the start of the pandemic- although Spanish epidemiologist Fernando Simón Soria says the situation is now stabilizing.
Sadly, another 41 people lost their lives to COVID-19, while 1,141 people were hospitalized in the last 24 hours. Spanish Education Minister Isabel Celaa told Spanish Television (RTE) that as of Wednesday 53 schools had reported coronavirus-related “incidents” so far.
Many schools opened their doors to students just this week, while some other regions have decided to wait and see what happens elsewhere. Despite reporting virus cases among staff and students, schools have remained open. Only a few have shut their doors entirely – including an elementary school in the Basque town of Zaldibar.
Doctors in Madrid to strike
Several others have put students in particular classrooms in 14-day confinement after a teacher or peer tested positive for the virus. On Thursday, local officials announced that two more towns were going under lockdown due to high levels of contagion; Jumilla in the southern region of Murcia and Andorra in the region of Aragon. Doctors in Madrid also announced an indefinite strike beginning on Sept. 28, although they insist all essential services will remain open.
“The lack of economic resources and the worsening of the situation due to the pandemic” have driven primary care doctors to “an inadmissible limit” that is not only impacting health professionals but also their patients, said the doctors association Amyts.
What does the protocol say?
The decision to quarantine a class depends on how it is configured. The protocol sent to schools differentiates between stable groups (a maximum of 20 students, who do not interact with other groups) and unstable groups (more than 20 students, but separated by more than 1.5 meters).
If a coronavirus case is confirmed in a stable group, the class must be quarantined for 14 days. If it is an unstable group, the quarantine will only affect close contacts (except for those that have contracted Covid-19 in the past six months). The rest of the class will continue as normal.
A close contact refers to any student who, two days before the infected individual began to experience symptoms and up until their isolation, was within two meters of them, without a face mask, for more than 15 minutes. In the case of children aged between six and 11, all students are considered close contacts regardless of whether they were wearing masks. With respect to teaching staff, the decision to quarantine is made on a case-by-case basis.