Face-to-face classes for nearly all students when school resumes
By John McPhaul
Acting Education Secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés announced on Thursday the plan to reopen island schools ahead of the start of classes in August, when nearly all of the student population will have face-to-face classes.
Ramos Parés said the plan was designed by analyzing the particularities of each educational region and prioritizing both school performance and the safety of the entire educational community.
The announcement was made at a press conference in the company of Eduardo Rivera, director of the Infrastructure Financing Authority, and Andrés Rivera, executive director of the Public Buildings Authority,
“We have implemented strategies so that 99.9% of our enrollment have this face-to-face contact, which they so badly need for their student development,” Ramos Parés said. “I thank the regional directors who, together with the mayors, have worked diligently in the development of this plan that will benefit the entire school community.”
In the new school year that begins in mid-August, 231,991 students will receive face-to-face education five days a week. This represents 88 percent of students from 744 schools. One hundred percent of the students in the educational regions of Bayamón and Caguas will receive face-to-face education from Monday to Friday. Meanwhile, 30,403 students from the rest of the educational regions will receive face-to-face education between one to three days a week; the other days will be in virtual mode.
“Total projected enrollment for August is 262,424 students. We will be using 702 capable schools in our seven educational regions,” the acting secretary said. “In addition, 14 rental facilities were identified that will be used for educational purposes.”
“As part of the strategies, ‘interlocking’ will be implemented in schools that share student enrollment and in cases where they cannot be face-to-face five days a week, students will receive hybrid classes, understood to be combined with virtual courses,” Ramos Parés said, adding that disused schools will be reactivated as part of the reopening plan.
Parents or guardians can access the Education Department page (https://de.pr.gov/) to find out the details of the schools available through an interactive map. The schools or facilities will be kept under constant review and are subject to change, due to unforeseen situations or needs of the educational communities, the acting secretary said.
As part of his remarks on the new public health guidance to be enforced at all reopened schools (see story on page 5), Ramos Parés said school cafeteria services will be active for use by all students in the public system from the beginning of the school year. To comply with the protocols to avoid infection with the coronavirus, the authorities established that students will be able to use both school dining rooms and common and ventilated areas for their meals.
With regard to school transportation, routes are being devised to meet the needs of all regions and offer the service for all students who require it.
The government plan includes the repair of school buildings, which includes buildings with short columns. For that reason, the acting secretary said, a program has been designed, in phases, to impact all educational regions.