Because Spain is experiencing an explosion in the Covid 19 cases, many parents are reluctant or even refuse to send their children back to school. And this, despite the threats of sanctions chosen by the authorities.
“To learn that you have your whole life, but health, you have only one!” The mother of two boys, Aroa Miranda, does not hide her irritation over the handling of the health crisis and the beginning of the school year. in Spain, where the Covid-19 epidemic is once again virulent. Like many parents, she decided not to send her children back to school.
“They are doing an experiment to see what will happen, as with guinea pigs,” upset the 37-year-old woman who lives in Castellon de la Plana, in the east of the country. For my 8-year-old son, I will try to come up with excuses, to say that he is ill “, Aroa explains while schooling is compulsory in the country between 6 and 16 years old. As for her 3-year-old son, she did not hesitate to subscribe to school.
According to her, the compulsory mask in school from the age of 6, and the measures of distance, are not enough. “If I do not have the right to gather more than ten people in my house, I do not understand why my son should be with 25 children in a class,” she is surprised.
“No zero risk”
For several weeks, demonstrations and petitions from parents have increased in Spain to demand more health guarantees in schools. According to an international study by the Ipsos Institute published in late July, the Spanish opinion is against the tides of European neighbors. A majority of respondents in Spain are in favor of reducing the number of days of personal lessons, and a quarter prefer to wait “between 4 and 6 months” before sending children back to school.
In view of the concerns, the authorities are swinging between reassuring messages and threats of sanctions. “Schools are much safer than other places, although there is no risk of an epidemic,” Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez insisted on Tuesday, “but there is a risk we must avoid: social exclusion.”
“Children can not live in bubbles,” pleaded the leading epidemiologist from the Ministry of Health, Fernando Simon. “They can also catch (the virus) in the park, or when they go to meet their cousins or from their father who is infected at work.”
In a country where almost a quarter of the population lives under the same roof as a loved one over the age of 65, according to a survey by the public institute from 2018, many parents fear exposing their elders.
The ghost of sanction
Aroa is unemployed and also fears the financial consequences of contamination of one of her children. “If we have to limit ourselves at home for 15 days because of school, my husband gets nothing,” she explains. In response, Minister of Social Security José Luis Escriva spoke on Friday about the possibility of compensating parents of children in preventive quarantine whose test is negative.
The ghost of sanction also hangs over fireproof families. The head of education for the Madrid region warned at the end of August against a possible sentence of “one to three years in prison”. The Minister of Education, Isabel Celaa, for her part, ordered a report on the issue without ruling out any sanctions. “Education is a right for the pupil, not the parents” and “it is an obligation of the public authorities to ensure respect for this right,” she warned in the daily newspaper El Pais.
“Get them fined, for me the most important thing is my children,” Aroa replies.