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Covid 19: Spanish health authorities agree quarantines for classrooms with five or more positive cases | Society

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A child about to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in Ourense, Spain.Rosa Veiga (Europa Press)

Spain’s central and regional health authorities agreed on Friday that entire classrooms would no longer be quarantined in preschool and elementary education if there are fewer than five positive cases of coronavirus in a “bubble group,” a system designed to keep children in stable groups and avoid contact with other classes.

“In an effort to preserve in-person education, group-wide quarantines will only be recommended when there are five or more cases of active infections in the classroom, or more than 20% of students are affected, in a period equal to or less than more than seven days, ”the ministry said in a statement. “If there are four cases or less than 20% of the students, these would be considered sporadic cases and quarantine would not be recommended.”

Until now, entire classrooms have been sent home when a case is detected, as all members of a bubble group are considered close contacts. In the last week of the December semester, 1.3% of classes were in quarantine – the worst figure since schools reopened in September 2020 following a nationwide lockdown and closure for months of all educational centers.

On December 31, the Madrid region announced that it was ending full classroom quarantines in preschool and elementary education, regardless of the number of infected students in a classroom.

As some regional officials recently launched the idea of ​​a return to distance education due to the rapid spread of the omicron variant, teachers ‘unions and parents’ associations had supported in-person learning and joined forces. expressed concern about the difficulties many working parents face when their children are sent home for isolation.

Some regions – which are in charge of their own coronavirus containment measures – had already taken a similar step even before today’s joint meeting of health officials. On December 31, the Madrid region announced that it was ending full classroom quarantines in preschool and elementary education, regardless of the number of infected students in a classroom. Andalusia made a similar decision on Monday, but left the final decision in the hands of general practitioners and school nurses.

Health Minister Carolina Darias on Tuesday asked regional governments to wait for Wednesday’s joint meeting before taking unilateral decisions.

In high school, vocational training and baccalaureate programs, classrooms have never been seen as bubble groups and only infected students, as well as those sitting closest to them, are isolated. . In all cases, infections among the population over 12 years of age have significantly decreased as 90.8% of students in these programs have already been vaccinated.

The Ministry of Health estimates that by early February, around 70% of children aged five to 11, who started getting vaccinated on December 15, will have at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. This is expected to bring transmission levels down, as children are the only age group that remains largely unvaccinated in Spain.