Schools to stay open

Department of Education denies they are hotspots; changes only likely in secondary schools

"School closures are not on the table." The Department of Education insisted that the schools are not functioning as hotspots of contagion and defends children should attend class insofar as possible. This was explained by the director of public schools, Josep González-Cambray, in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio, in which he pointed out that less than 1% of the students and teachers have tested positive for Covid-19 and that in most cases (77%) have not infected any of their fellow students. Gozález-Cambray pointed out that the situation is different in primary and secondary schools, and he did not rule out the possibility that there might be some distance learning in the latter.

Marc Ramentol, a senior health official, has argued that the closure of schools was ineffective in March and that they are now collecting data which indicates that attendance in education must be maintained. In this regard, Gonzalez-Cambray has stressed they are convinced that "schools must remain open". "The behaviour of the virus tells us that schools do not act as transmitters", he said, adding that no primary or secondary school has been completely confined and that, today, 95% of students and teachers attend classes.

González-Cambray, Ramentol and Pere Soler, head of infectious pathology at the paediatric service of Vall d'Hebron Hospital, agreed that "zero risk does not exist" and that, therefore, cases will continue to be detected at schools, but they stressed that transmission is lower among children. They highlighted the fact that whilst homes are the place where most contagion takes place, children are at its origin in only 6% of cases. Soler also pointed out that they are now working to better define who should be tested and who, by assessing the symptoms, could be dismissed.

Gathering symptoms

"We'll have to see if two, three or four symptoms can be put together" to see if they respond to a pattern that requires a test or not he explained. He also stressed good ventilation in classrooms as a factor in reducing the risk of infection. González-Cambray added that it is time to do "different things" and use outdoor spaces for classes or other activities.

Soler said that four of the Covid patients currently in Vall d'Hebron Hospital are children. Three of them arrived because of other illnesses and tested positive for Covid-19. None of them are in intensive care.

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