A taste of normalcy in schools: In-person classes resume for some students

By John McPhaul

Education Secretary-designate Elba Aponte Santos expressed her excitement on Wednesday over the resumption of in-person classes in some island public schools.

“Excellent,” Aponte Santos said in response to questions from the press. “It is the first experience that the children have had, who were entering Jesús T. Piñero [School in Caguas] today. So in this case, we ring the bell symbolically. And we are very excited.”

“The protocols are well established,” the designated Education secretary added. “That is why [the Jesús T. Piñero School] has its certification. They have … the nurse’s station. They have a psychologist, [who is] very much a leader for his community. So we are very grateful to all the mentors who were there. And also for the support of the parents, and of the mayor [of Caguas, William Miranda Torres], who was with us today.”

Aponte Santos said 88 percent of the students at Jesús T. Piñero School said they wanted to start attending school in person, so officials there are going to proceed with the reopening in hybrid fashion.

She said she gave some parameters to school communities for the return to in-person classes.

“Gradually, in a staggered manner, on a special schedule,” Aponte Santos said.

The island Health Department has already certified 102 schools to restart face-to-face classes.

Puerto Rico’s public education system has been providing instruction remotely for almost a year since schools were closed last March to avoid the spread of coronavirus infections.

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