As Covid-19 cases skyrocket in Spain, new school year arrives too early for some

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                Alors que les cas de coronavirus augmentent à mesure que la nouvelle année scolaire commence, de nombreux parents espagnols refusent de renvoyer leurs enfants en classe malgré la menace de sanctions.
            

«Vous avez toute votre vie à apprendre, mais si vous perdez votre santé, c'est tout», déclare Aroa Miranda, une mère de deux enfants de 37 ans qui n'enverra pas ses garçons à l'école cette semaine à la reprise du trimestre. la ville côtière de Castellon de la Plana.

Like its European neighbors, Spain is reopening schools this month despite the rapid spread of the virus, the country with the highest number of new infections on the continent.

“Back to school is treated as an experience, we are like guinea pigs,” said Miranda, who is about to remove her three-year-old from the preschool list, which is voluntary at her age.

“For my eight-year-old, I’m going to pretend he’s sick so I don’t have to send him to school.

Although masks are mandatory in school for anyone aged 6 and over and social distancing measures have been put in place, she doesn’t think that’s enough.

“If I can’t meet more than 10 people at home, I don’t understand why my son has to be in class with 25 children,” she lamented.

“It’s an absurd security risk.”

“There is no such thing as risk”

For weeks, there have been a growing number of protests and petitions across Spain demanding better health and safety measures in schools.

An international Ipsos poll in July found that most Spanish parents would refuse to limit the number of days children are in school, with one in four preferring to wait four to six months before sending them away.

    

Face aux inquiétudes, les autorités ont oscillé entre les garanties de sécurité et les menaces de sanctions.

“Going back to school is safe,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Tuesday.

“It is clear that ‘without risk’ does not exist during an epidemic, but there is a risk that can be avoided: that of social exclusion by not going to school. ”

Fernando Simon, the health ministry’s emergency coordinator, said nowhere was safe and children could catch the virus in the park, from their cousins ​​or from an adult who had caught him at work.

“We cannot keep our children in a bubble”, he declared, in remarks taken this weekend by the Minister of Education Isabel Celaa.

“The safest place is school and the benefits of being there are far greater than the possible risks,” she told Spanish public radio RNE.

Many fear that sending their children to school could put older family members at risk in a country where one in four families lives with a parent over 65.

“I want to respect the law, but if I have to choose between saving their life or that of my parents and sending my children back to school, it is obvious,” Pablo Sanchez, father of five, told AFP. .

‘Let them amend me’

Others fear the economic impact of a sick child.

“If we have to confine ourselves to the house for 15 days because of school, my husband would not gain anything,” Miranda said.

The Ministry of Social Security has raised the possibility of extending a leave scheme for parents forced to observe a period of preventive quarantine.

But reluctant families could technically face much heavier penalties, “between one and three years in prison,” the Madrid region education official warned last month.

It remains unclear to what extent the authorities will follow the letter of the law.

“This is the question everyone is asking themselves now,” said Pedro Caballero, head of an association of Catholic parents who is looking into the situation, which is fraught with legal uncertainties.

The Minister of Education also called for a study on the use of sanctions, without excluding them.

“I have to remind families that education is a human right for students, not for their parents. And the authorities are forced to see that this is respected between the ages of six and 16, ”she told El Pais newspaper.

Miranda is not discouraged.

“If they want to come to my house to fine me, then they give me a fine, my children are what is most important to me,” she said.

(AFP)

            

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