The vast majority of students in Argentina will likely return to classrooms in August, though with special hygiene measures in place, Education Minister Nicolás Trotta said Tuesday.
Most schools in the capital and its surroundings will have to wait until the number of Covid-19 infections begins to drop off, he added, saying the situation in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area is "more uncertain."
Any institutions re-opening would have to adopt the relevant coronavirus protocols from each province, taking into account the epidemiological situation in each region, Trotta added.
"After the winter holidays we will have everything ready for the return [of students to classrooms], which implies that the schools are prepared in terms of hygiene, social distancing, and that the necessary consensus is established for the safety of our educational community and all of society," Trotta said.
In the City of Buenos Aires and the Conurbano, a "return is more complex given the high number of infections," he added, detailing that "the epidemiological curve of the coming weeks will be evaluated closely."
Schools have been closed in Argentina for more than 80 days – many shuttered before the nationwide quarantine period was introduced on March 20.
"Until a decrease in the level of infections is achieved, it is impossible to imagine a return to the classroom [in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area]," said the minister.
“The return to the classrooms demands on changes in the operation of our schools, which is why we have been talking with the education ministers of all the provinces, unions, students and families, so that in August, if conditions are right, 85 percent of the country can go back to school in stages, interspersing days." he added.
The government is trying to avoid making the return to face-to-face classes optional, Trotta said, explaining that "would end up deepening inequality."
The minister also expressed concern over the number of teenage students who may opt not to return to school, saying he expected student numbers to be down next year.
In addition to the new health protocols that would allow return of face-to-face classes, the education minister said another priority was ensuring secondary school students were able to finish their school years.
National Education Ministry officials were due to hold a meeting this Tuesday with the Executive Committee of the Federal Council of Education and with the National Interuniversity Council (CIN) to begin to chart what should be a specific module focused on those students who are in their final year of schooling.