Five-year-olds in first grade will be the first to return to classrooms, Education Minister Nicolás Trotta has said, detailing a scale of priorities favouring those ending the primary or secondary stages of their education, as well as those taking their first steps towards literacy.
With classrooms empty for two months already by the end of this period of quarantine and with no end in sight, authorities in Buenos Aires City have already announced the replacement of numerical grading with “conceptual evaluations,” a move also being studied in various provinces such as Buenos Aires, Córdoba and Mendoza.
Trotta ruled out “a return to classes any time soon,” assuring that “not all students will be able to go back under normal conditions until a vaccine against coronavirus is found.”
When the return does come, it will be phased along the lines already planned by some European countries, he added.
“We’re going to prioritise the return of those who are finishing seventh [Ed. or sixth] grade [in primary school] or fifth year in secondary or in the first stages of literacy,” he affirmed in a radio interview.
“We have to be very careful because we do not want to repeat the dramatic scenes in other countries. In Spain they’re making a phased return and every country we’re talking to is taking decisions along those lines.”
First the talk was of July, then August and then September. When consulted as to the date for returning to school, Trotta underlined: “There is no chance of any return to classes in the short term,” adding that the national government is “working on the protocols for school re-entry, the [social] distances, etc.”
Over this point he explained: “We have no certainty as to when we’re going to go back and if we continue with distance learning, I consider that there should be some vacations too.”
It was also reported on Monday that via the Federal Education Council and in agreement with the teacher unions, there are advances towards a general and federal framework “which will permit us to trace a path towards where we are heading and what type of measures will be needed when we resume classes,” as expressed in a communiqué.
This week the Education Ministry and the governors of the 10 northern provinces of Catamarca, Chaco, Corrientes, Formosa, Jujuy, La Rioja, Misiones, Salta, Santiago del Estero and Tucumán signed an agreement for the delivery and distribution of 55,000 netbooks and 22,000 tablets in the framework of the pandemic.
The objective, according to the national ministry, is “to facilitate access to technology for the students and work towards reducing the digital gap in Argentina.”
The initiative joins the plans to deliver 135,000 netbooks to the most outlying districts of Greater Buenos Aires.
The computers will be arriving in stages in the next 20-25 days to each one of the 10 provinces. The local governments will co-ordinate the distribution of the technological material to be delivered to first-year students in state secondary schools. They aim to achieve “pedagogic continuity for all students with homogenous tools so that the netbooks accompany their education in the years come.” The netbooks can be used to access the digital platform Seguimos Educando and will also carry offline content.
– TIMES/PERFIL, with reporting from Clara Fernández Escudero