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The teaching world faces the challenge of security in the face of COVID-19

Preschool, primary and secondary school students from many countries around the world, dressed in masks and under strict hygiene measures, begin the school year today, with the challenge of maintaining security, so that the face-to-face classes maintain their activity in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The schools contemplate “partial” confinements in case of outbreaks, but they are committed to the continuity of face-to-face education to ensure the training of children and young people, amid the concern of parents about the risks of contagion of the coronavirus.

Some countries will combine face-to-face teaching, in which the ratio of students per classroom will be decisive to guarantee the safe distance, with telematics, which they will reinforce with the provision of computers to the most economically disadvantaged students.

This is the situation at the beginning of the school year in some parts of the world:

UNESCO ensures that only half of the students will return to class

Unesco warned this Tuesday that only half of the students will return to classrooms at the current start of the course, at a time when it is facing the closure of schools or uncertainty due to the pandemic.

In total, 900 million of the 1.5 billion students worldwide from preschool to high school should return to school between August and October. However, according to figures from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), only 433 million in 155 countries will do so in that period. Added to the 128 million that are already in the middle of the academic year, the total rises to 561 million students, so that a third of that student group will be able to attend classes.

Most of those students and their families are still waiting for clear guidance on what to expect, the Paris-based agency added, underlining that the most vulnerable populations, particularly girls, are at particular risk.

France: optimism to recover the school environment

The more than 12 million children who return to classrooms in France this Tuesday do so with masks but with enthusiasm, while teachers and parents are optimistic and relieved that their children recover the school environment. Its use will be mandatory for those over 11 years old and for all teachers, also coinciding with the new regulations that impose its use in all companies in the country.

The French Minister of Education, Jean-Michel Blanquer, insisted today on the “fundamental” nature of the school and education, stated that “in the days to come we may make decisions to close a class or a school”, But he explained that any confinement for coronavirus cases will be “partial” and that children will only pass the diagnosis when there are symptoms, not “randomly.”

The rules imposed by the Ministry of Education are especially rigid regarding the use of the mask, but also ask that physical distances be respected when possible, a complicated task in urban areas and with higher density, but that does not concern rural areas . In addition, parents have been advised that grandparents do not pick up their children at first and they hope to be able to change the request at the end of September.

Russia: Putin defends face-to-face education

The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, defended on Tuesday the advantages of face-to-face education over distance classes during a conversation with Russian students. “The distance format cannot replace the face-to-face format, it can only complement it,” said the Russian leader, but admitted that the telematics education that nearly 16 million Russian schoolchildren went through last spring has, without a doubt, its advantages that will also be used in the future.

The return to the classroom in Russia occurs between important security measures such as the use of masks inside educational centers (which will not be mandatory for children), body temperature controls and the prohibition of mass activities until at least the end 2020.

Italy: differentiated inputs and outputs

Although the Italian school will begin on September 14 in various areas (others will do so on September 23 or 24), Italian institutes open today for remedial courses for failed subjects, in what will be a first test of how the safety rules to avoid contagion at the beginning of the school year. Italian schools will impose differentiated entrances and exits, individual desks and, above all, protocols in the event that a positive is detected.

The scientific-technical committee, created by the Government to manage the pandemic, specified in a statement that in schools the recommendations of the World Health Organization on the use of masks will be applied: they should not be used by children under 6 years of age ; that between 6 and 11 years the use is conditioned to the local epidemiological situation and that from the age of 12 they should wear them like adults.

But it is specified that the mask will not be necessary while sitting if the distance of one meter between the desks is respected. Teachers will be allowed to wear transparent face masks to facilitate their work.

Serbia, mixed face-to-face and remote system

In Serbia today, pupils up to the fourth grade have returned to school, while for the older ones a combination of face-to-face and distance education was adopted.

The duration of the classes has been reduced from 45 to 30 minutes, while the number of students per classroom is limited to a maximum of 15 to ensure a distance of 1.5 meters.

Schoolchildren must wear masks from the moment they enter the educational center until they sit down at the desk, and they can only be removed while sitting in class.

Bosnia-Herzegovina with small classes

Children from the Serbian entity and from several cantons of the Muslim-Croat entity of Bosnia-Herzegovina have also returned to school today, while in the rest of the country the course will begin next week.

Classes are 30 minutes in classrooms with a maximum of 15 students, who must wear a mask at all times.

In the common body of Muslims and Croats, only children up to the fourth year attend face-to-face classes, the rest receive virtual classes.

Slovenia is committed to hygiene

Some 265,000 Slovenian schoolboys have started the new school year with masks and other precautionary measures on Tuesday, public television reported “TvSlo”.

Educational centers must ensure separation between the various classes, regular hand washing with soap or disinfectant, frequent ventilation of the classrooms and the consumption of snacks within the classes by groups.

Conditions that, according to the president of the association of school directors, Gregor Pecan, will not always be possible to fulfill.

Hungary, problems with space

In Hungary the school year began today with face-to-face classes and warnings from the authorities for schools to ensure hygiene and sanitation requirements, such as disinfectants and daily cleaning.

Although the use of a mask will not be compulsory, in schools it is necessary to ensure that students can stay in class while maintaining more distance than normal, something that is difficult for many schools with limited space.

The Government has not excluded that it will have to reimpose classes through the internet, as it has happened in the second half of the previous year, if the epidemiological situation in the country worsens.

Israel: maximum 18 students and 150,000 computers

Around 2.5 million Israeli preschool, primary and secondary school students started back to school today, at separate times, with a mask, a medical certificate and temperature controls at the entrance, while centers in areas with high morbidity due to COVID-19 remained closed.

The Israeli Ministry of Education has established a school system that will combine face-to-face with virtual training, distribute 150,000 laptops among the most disadvantaged populations, and upgrade or integrate technological infrastructures in the country’s 3,600 schools. To allow the division of classes in the majority of courses, with a maximum of 18 students, the Ministry has reinforced with 13,000 new positions the personnel – teachers and assistants – of the centers that have a total of 205,000 employees.

“It is quite a challenge, because we have received the protocol from the Ministry of Education but some measures are impossible to apply,” Ben Lev-Kadesh, director of one of the schools in Jerusalem, told EFE, who received all the students today and tomorrow the division between face-to-face and virtual training will begin. In cities with high transmission rates, 130,000 students were unable to return to classes while waiting for infections to stabilize, Education Minister Yoav Gallant said in an interview with public broadcaster Kan.

China: no mask requirement in Wuhan

Kindergartens and schools across China began the new school year today after 16 consecutive days without registering any local infection from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. In Wuhan – a city where the first cases of the virus were detected but which has not diagnosed new positives since May – almost 1.4 million students returned to class today without the obligation to cover their mouth and nose with a mask, but with the recommendation to have it on hand.

The 2,842 educational centers in Wuhan that reopened their doors today have been disinfected and periodic inspections and cleaning will be carried out as part of the prevention protocols established by the authorities, which also include taking the body temperature of students. Health authorities have emphasized hand hygiene, maintaining a safe distance and the use of masks on the way between school and home, especially if using public transport.

In Shanghai, more than 1.5 million primary and secondary school students have started classes, as is also the case in Beijing, whose university students have already started their return for the next start of the course. In the capital, primary and secondary students will return to their desks in a staggered manner, and some have already started classes on August 29, while others will not do so until September 7.

India: fear of tests on the coronavirus scale

Some 2.5 million Indian students are called to one of the university entrance exams as of Tuesday, amid strong controversy among those who believe they should be suspended due to the escalation of coronavirus cases in India. It is the exam that allows entry to engineering studies, better known in the country by the acronym JEE, which will be held in centers throughout the country until next Sunday.

Another demanding test for the medical career, the NEET, is scheduled for next September 13. Both exams have been postponed several times this year. “The number of centers in charge of the examination has increased from 570 to 660 in the case of JEE, and in the case of NEET they have gone from 2,546 to 3,843,” the Ministry of Education recently announced in a statement. But these promises have not been enough to a good number of students concerned about the growing numbers of infections in India, which already registers more than 3.6 million cases of coronavirus and in recent days has broken the world record of daily cases with more than 78,000.

However, in the opinion of the highest judicial body, “despite the pandemic, ultimately life must continue, students’ careers cannot be jeopardized and an entire academic year cannot be wasted.” Even young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg on Twitter last week called “deeply unfair” that Indian students have to “pass national exams during the coronavirus pandemic and while millions have been affected by heavy flooding” in the country.

Cambodia: classrooms with a maximum of 20 students

The Cambodian authorities began on Tuesday to clean and prepare the classrooms for the reopening of schools on September 7 and that, according to a statement from the Cambodian Ministry of Culture, they will have a maximum of 20 students and measures will be implemented to keep the distance physical.

The centers, both primary and secondary, will have temperature controls at the entrance and hygiene will be promoted to avoid possible infections, while students will alternate attending class a few days with distance learning.

Since last March, Cambodian schools have had the help of UNESCO to create teaching programs that are delivered through television channels, social networks and mobile applications. However, many schoolchildren, mainly in rural areas, have not been able to pursue distance education due to the lack of television, computers and smart phones.

Jordan, back to school after five months

More than two million children returned to classrooms this Tuesday in Jordan with masks and meeting the requirements of social distancing, after a school interruption of more than five months as a result of the pandemic and amid a rebound in coronavirus cases.

More than 4,000 schools, which closed on March 21 within the framework of the total curfew imposed in the Arab country to prevent the spread of COVID-19, reopened today with strict preventive measures and amid a rebound in cases in the country, which yesterday exceeded the figure of 2,000 accumulated infections.

For this atypical return to school, the Jordanian Government has established that all children over 6 years of age always wear a mask, while students must maintain a distance of one and a half meters inside the classrooms and 2 meters in recess and outside of class. (September 1, 2020, EFE / PracticaEspañol)

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Question 1
En el texto se dice que...
A
en ningún momento los padres se han mostrado preocupados ante la posibilidad de que sus hijos se contagien en la escuela.
B
se desmiente que la gran mayoría de las escuelas prefieran impartir las clases de forma presencial.
C
hay países que combinarán la enseñanza presencial con la enseñanza a distancia a causa del pandemia del COVID-19.
Question 2
Según el texto...
A
la UNESCO descarta por completo la posibilidad de que muchos alumnos no puedan volver a clase cuando empiece el curso escolar.
B
en Francia no se descarta la posibilidad de que pueda cerrarse un aula o un colegio a causa del COVID-19.
C
en ningún momento el uso de la mascarilla será obligatorio tanto para los alumnos como para los profesores en Francia y en Hungría.
Question 3
En el texto se dice que...
A
en India, hay un gran polémica por haberse cancelado unos exámenes de acceso a la universidad a causa del COVID-19.
B
Putin considera que las clases a distancia son un complemento de las presenciales.
C
todas las escuelas y centros educativos de Italia comenzarán las clases a finales de este mes.
Question 4
Leyendo el texto entendemos que...
A
en ningún país será necesario que haya un límite de alumnos por aula.
B
el número máximo de alumnos por aula no tiene nada que ver con la pandemia del coronavirus.
C
el número máximo de alumnos por aula es una medida para evitar posibles contagios.
Question 5
En el texto se dice que...
A
en Eslovenia no será necesario que los alumnos se laven frecuentemente las manos para evitar contagios.
B
los alumnos de las escuelas de Wuhan deberán llevar la mascarilla puesta en todo momento.
C
las medidas de seguridad en Jordania son muy estrictas para evitar que haya algún contagio por COVID-19.
Question 6
En el texto se dice que...
A
miles de alumnos no han podido volver a clase ya que viven en zonas donde la tasa de contagios es alta.
B
en Israel ningún alumno de preescolar ha vuelto aún a la escuela.
C
no se ha registrado ningún nuevo caso de COVID-19 en Israel en los últimos días.
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