Teachers raised a multitude of doubts and questions about the new school term during a videoconference with the President of the Government, Francina Armengol and Education Minister, Martí March on Wednesday, but many of them said there are still a number of unanswered questions.
“We left the meeting even more confused and bewildered, there are no clear consistent answers or guidelines, it’s still not clear what the ratios are and we're being forcing us to use places like gyms, libraries and laboratories as classrooms,” said Joana Maria Mas, President of the Association of Directors of Children & Primary Schools of Mallorca, or Adipma.
The casuistry of school canteens is very varied: eating in the classrooms, taking the food home, how to move dishes to canteens on higher floors, but there were no clear answers.
“Some of the furniture hasn’t arrived, which is absolutely fundamental for blended classes, because double desks are now for one student only,” said Mas. “It also turns out that the dining room monitor can serve food, but can’t do anything else. Teaching materials, such as puzzles, story books and games can be shared between different stable groups, but it's not clear who will be responsible for disinfecting it each time it’s used. Everything is very confusing,” she stressed. “It seems as if they’re just letting each Centre do it as best they can, which is causing anxiety and the canteen companies are also very concerned.”
Mas says it’s an uphill battle for teachers who are facing a raft of problems.
"We raised the possibility of delaying the start of the term until all these issues had been resolved, but the Government ruled it out,” said Mas. “New students recently arrived which has forced us to split up groups and that plus the switch from face-to-face classes to blended classes has forced us to look for new spaces for classrooms.”
The Escola Catòlica de les Illes Balears, or ECIB, says a ratio of 20 students is “unacceptable" unless 150 extra teachers are assigned to schools in the Balearic Islands.
“If the Education Department doesn’t provide at least 150 extra teachers we can’t split groups, therefore we cannot assume a ratio of 20 students or less per classroom for Infant and Primary classes, and 15 students in ESO,” said Llúcia Salleras, ECIB General Secretary.
The Education Department recently announced that it's hiring an extra 30 teachers, but the ECIB says that’s clearly not enough.
"If more teachers don’t arrive, the classroom ratios will be increased by more than 20 students,” added Salleras.
According to the BOE, the Balearic Islands are entitled to €50.2 million of the €2,000 million in Covid-19 funds for Education. The amount is based on the number of 0-16-year-olds and 17-24-year-olds in the Balearic Islands, which is 196,446 and 94,062 respectively.