On July 26, schools in Chile began their second semester of school along with a return to in-person learning. School has been a challenge as COVID continues to be quite active in Chile.
In early July, the directors of UNICEF and UNESCO joined forces to call for the immediate reopening of schools with the aim of “avoiding a generational catastrophe.” This directive coincided with the celebration of the World Education Meeting. The Executive Director of UNESCO, Henrietta Fore, and the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, reproached the decisions of the governments to keep schools closed.
When students cannot attend school in person, the loss is great. Many have been out of touch with friends, while others have regressed in their learning. Students also get a great sense of security when attending school. That is also imperative from an emotional standpoint for children of all ages.
The Nuestra Señora de Andacollo school now offers classes with a maximum of 23 students per room. Classes are for a half-day, with students returning home at 1:30. The student body is divided into two lists, with one group attending one week and the other the following week. The popularity of attending school is evident as they opened with 101 students enrolled and had 145 a week later.
More recently, they reported a return of 256 students, representing 50% of the students who should be in attendance. Classes are streamed online for students who stay home. Accommodations are being made for families without internet. Teachers and administrators work regular hours.
Without a doubt, everything is a tremendous risk, both for the health of the students and for the infrastructure in the school. The ability to conduct online classes for the half of the students who remain home is not easy. However, the teachers persevere, and the families appreciate their efforts.
The Management of Saint George’s College also announced their plan to return to in-person teaching for the second semester. Students in grades 7 thru 12 will attend full time, Monday – Friday, keeping the work in small groups. The school is not providing lunch due to the risk of having large numbers of people gather. Sports training activities will restart after school, for a maximum of two hours. Ten minutes of prayer every morning continues.
In addition to the mandatory use of masks and social distancing, the school has instituted three 15-minute breaks, during which time the rooms are aired out and cleaned. Plenty of disinfectant supplies and hand sanitizers are on hand in each classroom.
For students who cannot attend in-person for health reasons, community quarantines, or by family decision, the school maintains a virtual connection.