In the face of the uncertainty regarding the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, the Best Schools in Spain are putting in place all the measures within their reach to guarantee, as far as possible, that school activities and in-person classes can be carried out effectively in their spaces.
Our main, and most important, goal is to guarantee the health and wellbeing of the educational community, made up of families, students, teachers, non-teaching staff etc.
Our second goal, naturally subordinate to the first one, is to ensure that our students’ academic rhythm is affected as little as possible so that their learning does not suffer more than necessary.
Thirdly, we want to cause as little disruption as possible to families’ routines. This is absolutely crucial for the parents of younger students, as the peace of mind they get from knowing that their children are safe and well cared for at school is fundamental.
We need to combine these three objectives with all of the restrictions and regulations being stipulated by the Spanish government and regional authorities as the COVID-19 health crisis evolves, in order to offer the best health and safety guarantees in schools.
Classroom safety at the Best Schools in Spain
Significant hygiene measures must be adopted to ensure the safety of the entire educational community. This includes cleaning spaces exhaustively several times per day, in addition to providing hygiene products to teachers and students and training them to take on new and stricter individual disinfection and cleaning habits.
We have also adopted measures to better control personal contact. On the one hand, this involves ensuring students can keep a safe distance from one another, which creates problems in terms of space in all centres. All of the Best Schools in Spain are finding solutions depending on their specific situation.
Many educational centres plan to solve this space problem by adapting the capacity of all facilities for the different scenarios we may see during the next school year. We have been working on several prevention and action plans for months, and we are ready for all possible opening scenarios and decisions that the educational or health authorities may adopt at any time from the start of the school year: normal attendance, restrictions on the number of students or the distance between them and full-time distance learning.
Whatever opening scenario we have to face, the Best Schools in Spain will maintain extremely strict hygiene standards, which include the careful and constant disinfection of surfaces, classrooms, hallways, bathrooms, etc. We must do all this while taking great care and increasing the hours that cleaning staff spend maintaining common spaces, as well as offices, the teachers’ lounge or other common areas.
In-person education in the 2020-2021 school year
In the event that school attendance is affected by capacity restrictions or distancing requirements, something that may happen from the very start of the school year or in the face of possible new COVID-19 outbreaks in autumn or winter, the youngest students will be the priority for in-person education. There are two reasons behind this:
Firstly, due to their need for attention, which is much greater than in older children. They are not sufficiently independent or mature, as is normal, to make the most of online classes. The past term has been proof of this, and performance varied greatly between different age groups.
Secondly, due to the need to provide a service and support to families, to help them find a balance and be able to get back to work in the most normal conditions possible. The younger the child, the bigger this problem is for families. In addition to the fact that their educational progress and training needs require in-person attendance to a larger extent, younger children also need their group of classmates to socialise and have emotional stability with their teacher.
For these two reasons, in these circumstances pre-primary and primary students would have the entire centre for themselves, while older students would attend distance classes like they have done this past term, given that the experience has worked extraordinarily well in the Best Schools in Spain. If we can use all spaces for younger students, it would be perfectly feasible to divide them into groups with a maximum of ten students and ensure they can keep a suitable distance between one another.
The main difficulty in this case is not so much logistical but financial. Not only is it necessary to expand the spaces, but also the number of staff. Naturally, the Best Schools in Spain put their students’ wellbeing before all else; consequently, in the event that this situation arises, the centres would cover the inevitable increase in costs over the school year, without this affecting the quality of the education received by students.
With all this, we will try to meet this extremely difficult threefold goal: to not put children or adults at risk, ensure the rhythm of students’ learning is not affected and free up the families of younger students from the constant attention they require.
As this is an unprecedented situation, we are well aware that unforeseen circumstances may arise and it might not all turn out as planned. Therefore, flexibility and the ability to adapt to changing and at times confusing circumstances are also two essential aspects. The Best Schools in Spain will put all their efforts into managing these situations professionally and providing families with the peace of mind and certainty that their children’s best interests are our top priority.