Education Minister Nicolás Trotta said Monday that students in Argentina would be able to attend at least three face-to-face classes with their teachers a week when the new school term begins this month.
Speaking in an interview with a local radio station, Trotta said he hoped 2021 would “be a year of recovering learning,” adding that the government was promoting “the safe return” of in-person classes.
Addressing the question of how many face-to-face classes with teachers would be authorised a week, he responded “at least three times a week” initially.
Educational institutions were shuttered in March last year as part of a strict raft of measures to control the spread of Covid-19 in Argentina, with students instead switching to remote learning. Many children went back to face-to-face classes at the tail-end of last year, but only once a week.
The new school year is due to begin in mid-February in Buenos Aires City and some other regions, with the majority of provinces restarting on March 1. Students will be educated via a combination of classroom presence and virtual techniques.
Trotta said Monday that government officials had been touring the country to ensure students in all regions would be able to enjoy classes.
“We have visited 16 of the 24 educational jurisdictions so that we all have the same point of view – that all our schools are open at the beginning of term,” Trotta told the Lanata Sin Filtro programme.
The return of classes as a whole has been the subject of hot debate in recent weeks. Tensions have been mounting over the return of classes at schools across the country, with some unions insisting that teachers be vaccinated before classes return. The opposition Juntos por el Cambio coalition has taken up the subject as a banner issue, with government officials accusing what they view as “political opportunism."
The minister said all relevant health and safety protocols had been agreed and that “physical distancing, the use of masks and [appropriate] ventilation” would be “guaranteed.”
Trotta said the government wanted to “deliver all families the peace of mind that we are promoters of a safe return to the presence of children and teachers in all classrooms."
The minister also found time to aim a barb at former head of state Mauricio Macri, describing him as “a bad president” who had tried to “obstruct educational reconstruction" while in office.
"If they are so concerned that education is essential, why did they allow their government to underfund the schools?" he quipped.