A group of concerned parents in Argentina are organising themselves and pressuring the government to authorise the return of face-to-face classes with teachers at schools across the country.
Tens of thousands of students across the country have not enjoyed time with teachers in class for months. Schools in Argentina were initially shuttered back in March last year, as part of measures to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in Argentina, and while some educational institutions temporarily reopened under the so-called "bubble protocol," classes were few and far between.
Angered by the lack of facetime with teaching professionals, a group of parents have now organised themselves social media and are calling on others to join their campaign, as they step up pressure on the government. The collective, known as Padres Organizados ("Organised Parents") is actively protesting for the return of children to classrooms to reverse the “social impact on the most vulnerable sectors [of society].”
One of the group's most vocal campaigners, María José Navajas, told local news outlets last week that the group has requested a meeting with Education Ministry officials to learn details of what plans the government has to ensure children return to schools and what steps are in place to promote and encourage students to return to schools.
While the parents have not yet received a response, they hope their request will be fulfilled before the start of the school term, which usually begins early March.
Reports over the weekend suggest that schools will reopen across the country between mid-February and late March. Navajas said last week parents were told in a recent meeting with authorities from the Buenos Aires City government that face-to-face classes would resume in the capital on February 17.
Following in the footsteps of similar suits filed in San Isidro and Villa la Angostura, Padres Organizados has filed an appeal with the courts, calling for a “guarantee" of "equal access to education.”
Navajas, a doctor in history, told local media that “there are 16 provinces which support the demand” for schools to begin face-to-face classes again.
“Nicolás Trotta himself said that children are not transmitters of the virus,” said the activist, referring to the national education minister and dismissing claims that Covid-19 may spread more rapidly with schools open.
Navajas explained that “not going to school all year presents many negative consequences for children from all segments of society.”
She argued that the shutdown of schools had disproportionately affected students from poorer backgrounds, with some unable to access online teaching due to a lack of equipment or technology.
“The worse affected were the most vulnerable, those who have less economic resources, because school for them is not only a place of learning but also where they receive a hot plate of food and escape from conflictive family environments,” said the historian from Tucumán.
She added, “they are the ones who lose the most, since they have lost touch with schools due to not having the necessary technology. But even the children who were able to connect and receive support lost contact with their peers."
Padres Organizados was established in August after a conversation between different members on Twitter. In September they issued a public letter, attracting the support of various members of society including Dr Adolfo Rubinstein, who served as health minister in the Mauricio Macri administration.
Members of the opposition have picked up the mantle in recent days, with many over the past week posting messages online with a hashtag that read 'Reopen the Schools.' After weeks of silence, former president Macri posted a message online last week calling for the reopening of educational institutions.